The overhead projector was at the front.
The march to the library for textbooks happened.
And then, when they returned, students were met with a question:
On Day 1 of the school year.
The whole class was given four minutes of independent think and write time, and they hated it. Those four things look familiar, but it's been at least 3 months since I've used them; what are they?! The teacher then acknowledged, and condoned, that some students were looking through their textbooks for help.
You have one more minute.
Now, even more frustrated, students started whispering to each other. They were leaning over, asking if anyone around them remembered what radians were and how these all fit onto the unit circle. UNIT CIRCLE! I knew it!
Shhhhhh... No talking.
The time ended, and their new teacher, confident that it would all work out, had the class get up and join a corner of the room to represent the one that they felt did not belong. Now, and only now, were they to talk about why theirs was the one that didn't belong, then write the reasons they came up with onto the chart paper.
And then the bell rang. Class dismissed.
Afterwards, Paula and I met with the teacher and praised her for what we had just witnessed. On the first day of school, she found a way to get kids to want to talk to each other about math, look into their textbook for information, and anticipate tomorrow's lesson. That was phenomenal by itself, but Day 2 was only going to get better.
Here's her reflection later in the day, via email, and shared with permission:
On Day 2, she brought back the four WODB options from yesterday, then asked about the thorny one: radians. What are they? Why are they different? Can we do something with them?
Again, a class full of kids were curious and eager to hear more.
She placed a paper plate onto each student desk as the class went up to create their own "tape measure" that would be used throughout the class, and spent the day creating markings for the tape along with their very own Unit Circle that can be used throughout the chapter (and beyond).
After all, that's what the first days of school are for. In those two short days, this teacher used mathematics--specific to her content--to help students build a relationship with each other, to set the tone for how this class will go if you work together, and to build a trust in the teacher that there is a purpose for what we are doing in class.
Once Day 2 was over, I went up and thanked this teacher, because she absolutely rocked the intro to her class and allowed me to be a small part of it.
My hope for you is that you find a way to make this happen in your class to start the school year, or at any point during the school year. It's good for the kids, it's good for you.
Happy "Smiling As You Leave" Fishing