Friday, July 5, 2013

New Preps.... and the search for collaborators!

For this next year, I will be teaching two new preps and now that it is July, I guess I should start thinking about them!

Prep 1 - Intermediate Algebra

Over the past few years, my district has noticed more students struggling with Algebra 2 for various reasons. Our first intervention plan involved enrolling the students in an Algebra Lab class, which meant that weaker students were enrolled in 2 hours of math a day. This was good for some students, but with only 6 hours in a day, increased graduation requirements, and some really awesome elective options, many students that needed Algebra Lab were not enrolled in it.

To combat this issue, particularly as we transition to CCSS and increased rigor in the standards, our Math Curriculum Specialist pushed for an Intermediate Algebra class to replace the Algebra Lab program. The course is designed for sophomores and juniors who have completed Algebra 1 and Geometry, but are not ready for the rigors of Algebra 2 quite yet. The students are expected to enroll in Algebra 2 the following year.

We will be using the "Bridge to Algebra 2" textbook below:

Honestly, I'm really excited about teaching this course. The text we have chosen is very hands on and seems to be project/problem based. I have the freedom to build the course and there is no end-of-course standardized exam. (YAY!) I would like for the class to really help the students make connections, have fun with math, and really apply what they learn.

However, I'm also a tad nervous! I've never taught in a problem based setting. How will I adapt SBG to this course? How will I structure the class? I've searched for other schools doing something similar and have come up mostly empty. I'll be working with students that don't really like math, which is okay, those are the kids I love. But that can be another difficult hill to climb alone. :(

If you know of anyone teaching a similar course or using this text, PLEASE let me know, either in the comments or send me a tweet (@druinok). If you are just interested in helping me figure out it, that would be awesome too! :)

Prep 2 - Forensic Science and Data Analysis

You know that moment when you realize that you are piloting not one, but TWO brand new courses that no one has ever taught and then you think to yourself.. "Self - YOU ARE INSANE!!!" Yeah, that's where I am right now :)

My building was built to foster math/science collaboration, which means we alternate Math/Science in an effort to open lines of communication, etc. When they assigned us rooms, they tried to pair up people based on curriculum in order to help this collaboration. Of course, as a Statistics teacher, I had the luxury of being able to collaborate with just about anyone, but I already had established partnerships with the AP Environmental Science teacher and the AP Biology teacher, so I was placed near them in order to continue the collaboration.

So earlier this year, the APES teacher, who also pioneered our Biotechnology program, and I were talking about how cool it would be to team teach a class someday. She mentioned that often in their science classes, they gather some really cool data, but often times just tell the kids to "look! how cool!" and move on to the next unit. From that discussion, we brainstormed a Forensic Science and Data Analysis course. We presented it to our curriculum specialists, then to our principals, who helped it get approved by our district. It will be a one semester course, with a pre-req of Biotechnology and Algebra 2. The two of us will team teach it during the same hour with about 50 kids total. Thankfully, we have classrooms that open up to each other via a huge doorway in our shared wall, so that the management of 50 kids won't be too difficult (I hope!).

I should probably admit here that science is NOT my strong point and I'm terrified of teaching science, but I think the class will be awesome! Thankfully my district is sending me to a forensic science workshop next week, so hopefully some of my fears will be alleviated! :)

Pretty please...
If you know of ANYONE that teaches courses like these, please send them my way! I need some major help getting things together before school starts! :)


Mrs. Akahoshi said...

I'm still working on organizing these into more subtabs, mostly because having to read them all to find something kind of is . are the links that I've acquired through the MTBoS that pertain to Algebra, whether it is Algebra I or II. I hope they help!

Ricochet said...

I will be teaching the last Algebra 2 class before we go to common core. I am intrigued and ordered the Bridge to Alg 2 book from Amazon. Love to communicate with you more about this.

anne_mayre said...

I would see if you can work out some planning time with your science colleague that you will be co-teaching with, or another willing colleague. I'm a science teacher and I'm in a lesson study program for math and science teachers. Especially during the summer, the lessons that are introduced to us and/or we develop ourselves look very much like a math-science hybrid. It has really been awesome to see this in action. Also, you already follow a teacher that I think just from reading his posts, does an excellent job with problem-based math (Shawn C.).

anne_mayre said...

Also, I did teach Forensics for two years (sort of). I do have many items saved, I really didn't get things to a point I was happy with, but it was a process that I didn't get to finish. Anyway,I would be willing to share files, if you want (I was able to borrow from many sources). I didn't have a textbook for class, I know that I ordered one or two books for my own resources and used those as a guide. Also, The Forensics Teacher is an online resource. If your colleague is an NSTA member, I know that the journals have forensics type lessons periodically.

druin said...

@Mrs Akahoshi - Awesome! I've not played with LiveBinders much, thanks for sharing yours!!

@Ricochet - I'm really pumped about the Bridge book. It is very hands on. If you do a google search with the name and filetype:pdf, you can see a sample chapter from the 1st edition. Looking forward to talking to you more about it!

@anne_mayre - The science teacher and I have the same plan period and since we share a door, we are in each others rooms a lot :) I'm really excited to start this new venture and would love to visit with you more!

anne_mayre said...

Sure! My e-mail is .

Anonymous said...

I may not be much help at all here but I taught a lower level Algebra II class at my school last year and I am teaching it again this year. We do some algebra II stuff and some trig and then students take Algebra III which finishes the rest of algebra II material and introduces precalcish things.

The book we had was the bridge book you are using (though I believe mine was an older edition). I liked the idea behind the book but then I never really used it as I did not like the way the homework problems were set up and I would end up doing my own activities that I liked better instead of the ones the book offered. I know you are excited about the book so I am not trying to crush your dreams but it just didn't work for me and my students. Feel free to contact me at anytime as it sounds like we might be teaching a course that is similar.

Brooke Seals said...

I am teaching Bridging to Algebra 2 for the first time this year, too! We should team up! We are using I different book but I have seen that one. My email is and my name is Brooke!

Unknown said...

Aloha! I came across your blog on Pinterest and was intrigued. I am a science teacher who just got assigned two Stats classes. (First year teacher by the way). I need help! I've got nothing. Just the book, and not even a teacher's edition. You are a teacher too, so I know your busy, but if you had a moment to spare to help a fellow teacher, could you send some my way? Mahalo from Hawaii!

judyhante said...

Wow! Forensic science and data analysis sounds fascinating. I teach statistics at community college after 30+ yrs of working in industry in statistics and quality. I am trying to dream up some short statistics oriented projects for my students that would take maybe 6 to 10 hours total outside class. Any ideas would be welcome!!