Having your students’ working together in teams on the first day of school is a great way to establish your classroom expectations around cooperative learning. Remember that all of the activities, including team roles, and study team and teaching strategies provided in the first few lessons are specifically designed to encourage conversations between students - conversations about themselves as well as the math. Use icebreakers to help students break down some of the barriers to working as a study team. Most importantly, use time this week to set up classroom and study team expectations. Having students actively involved in making a list of classroom expectations is a great Think-Ink-Pair Share activity.
Getting students to be on task all the time is your ultimate goal, but remember that a few moments of off task conversation is normal. Finally, don’t forget to inform parents of your expectations as well.
Whether your students are working with graphing calculators or manipulatives for the first time or just being introduced to a new topic, there are some helpful strategies that foster quality teamwork. One is to make sure the students are working in pairs first. Have them use a Peers Check, where they are constantly checking to see what their partner is doing. Another idea is to have a few students (preferably the Facilitator from each team), come in before school (or after school the previous day) and teach them the use of the calculator or manipulatives that you are going to be using during the lesson. Then when the lesson begins you will have an experienced person at each team who will help facilitate the lesson. Remember to allow the students a few minutes to explore with the manipulative or calculator. There are also videos about using the graphing calculator on the eBook under Reference→TI 83/84. The TI graphing calculator videosand Desmos videos are in student help!
Have a great start to a new school year! For an overview of collected “quick tips” for starting the school year, see the newsletter archives at the CPM website, September 2007 (“keys to success”) and September 2008 (quick tips).