Amplifying Minds

Learning and Growing Together

First Day Plans

So our kids have been in school for 8 days.  Teachers have been building classroom community and pre-assessing for some achievement groupings, and getting to know the kids.  We’ve been doing some pre-work on our new devices (an infusion of 40 Chromebooks and 18 iPad minis this year) and talking about our Design 2015 projects in each grade level.  So far the highlight of the year for kids (and definitely our principal!) has been the Book Brigade, I think.

But the highlight for me is that the first week of September I get to start working with kids more than one on one testing them! So here’s what I’m thinking about math.

I’ll be working with 25 or so kids in 5th grade–who will be heading towards a middle school honors class that is a compacted 6th, 7th, and 8th grade curriculum.  There are two likely paths for these kids when they get to middle school.  Those who succeed in the 3 year compacted class will go into Algebra in 7th grade. Some, who are less confident and secure in the concepts taught next year, will go into a compacted year of 7th and 8th and go into Algebra in 8th grade.

My goal, to amplify their minds this year, is to help to my kids look at the world through a mathematical lens, rather than see math as algorithms to be learned. So, we’ll be working with real life examples whenever possible, they’ll be learning math within real contexts and we’ll do units like the “Artful Engineering” one developed to use the fabricators we have. I’ll be collaborating with a fifth grade teacher for this class, and we’ll mostly do it in her room.

But this first week, I can’t decide quite how to begin…

I want to have discussions about what is math and what does a mathematician do. I’m considering asking them to do/make something to show what they know/think/believe about math. I’m not sure that wouldn’t be too open-ended for the first day, though.

I want to take in some new manipulatives that will end up being snap cubes, but right now are nets of cubes.  I want to ask kids to figure out what they are and design something with them, to see what they build and how they think.

I want to read Counting on Frank and talk about “Henry Questions.”

I want to show the figure from Lockhart’s Lament and ask them how much room the triangle takes up and hear their thinking–and watch how it changes as others share theirs.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 9.50.37 AM

I want them to fiddle with questions such as:

“A piece of wood is 15 feet long. How many 3/4-foot sections can be cut from it?” so I can see how they think.

I want them to list and think about questions that arise from looking at things like:


I’ve thought about building a slideshow of some kind and asking them to pick a picture and describe the math in it. I’d include pictures like those from here and here and here.

I want them to see math as art, as fun, as manageable and achievable and most of all something to invest in and enjoy!

So I’m trying to figure out how to involve and engage them in something cool…something that shares what math means to them… something that helps me begin to know more deeply how they think and what they think doing math is.

What would you do?


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One thought on “First Day Plans

  1. Pingback: First Day / First Week 2013-2014 | I Speak Math

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