Chris Shore just posted about his first day plans. What I liked most was this idea:
... an American martial artist who toured fighting schools in China ... said that for all the good teachers, he learned everything they were going to teach him in the first lesson, and the rest of his time with them was spent mastering those first-day lessons.Reading that made me want to clarify for myself what my goals are for my classes, and to plan my Day One activities to point students toward those goals.
My goals for each class:
- help students form a learning community, where they feel safe taking risks
- provide tasks that are deeply engaging
- help students learn to problem-solve
- help students become more persistent (teach them about how useful a flexible mindset is)
- help students learn the 'material' of the course, along with a broader understanding of what math is
In Calculus, we'll be starting with graphing y=x2, and drawing a tangent line at x=2, freehand. They'll do that in their groups of 4, and estimate the slope of their tangent line. Together, we'll talk about the various meanings of the word 'tangent'. This task is at the heart of the course. Then they'll do the axes exercise.
In Calculus II, they'll start with finding the area of a circle. I want them to begin to address the difference between definitions (pi is defined to be the ratio of circumference to diameter) and proved theorems (area can be shown, by ancient methods that lead toward calculus, to be half the circumference times the radius). They'll also do the axes exercise.
I'm working now on creating a task for the Pre-Calculus class. It won't be as deep as the other two, unless I come up with something better in the next week. I like to think the students' job in that course is to learn to identify families of functions. So I'm writing up some dialogues that should go with some graphs. One each for linear, quadratic, exponential, and periodic.
Here's what I've got for now:
Stories and GraphsAlicia: “The days are getting shorter now. The sun’s still up until past 8pm, but I’ve noticed that it’s a bit earlier each week.”Bo: “I wonder what the longest and shortest days are.”Cristina: “If you go back in my family, I have my two parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents – did you know my great-grandma lives with us?”Diego: “Whoa, mine too! No wait, she’s my great, great. She’s 93.”Cristina: “We’d have 16 of those. I wonder how far back until everyone’s related.”Diego: “Hmm, there’s 7 billion people on Earth but it would be less the further you go back…”Erlino: “I pay $30 a month for this phone, plus 1 cent a minute. Sure glad I don’t pay for data too.”Foday: “I use about an hour a day. My plan is $40 a month with no per-minute charges.”Greta: “We visited the Grand Canyon this summer. At one of the view points, I stood at the edge of an incredible cliff. My brother dropped a little rock, and we heard it hit 3 seconds later.”Hazel: “I wonder how far that is.”Please draw a graph (with axes labeled) to go with each story. Identify each one as linear, quadratic, exponential, or periodic.
What are you planning for your first day?