Saturday, August 1, 2015

First days of school ideas - adapted from basketball camp!

My son and husband have attended a basketball camp this week. There are a couple of activities they have done in the classroom sessions that I want to adapt for the first days of my algebra classes.

First idea:
Explain a little about what makes a good group member or leader, an average group member, and a bad group member (my students sit in groups of 4)...then give the students some classroom scenarios and ask them to work in their groups to decide how the 3 types of group members would respond.

Example scenario:
The teacher puts a problem on the board and tells you it is review and you should all know how to do the problem. However, no one in your group knows how to do the problem.

Sample reaction of a good group member/leader: "Well, let's look in the book for similar problems."

Sample reaction of average group member: Raises his/her hand and waits for the teacher to come to their group.

Sample reaction of a bad group member: "She's crazy! What's for lunch today?"

I think this has a lot of potential. I want to improve my 3 names of types of group members and I want to come up with some GREAT scenarios! Also, I want to record the students' responses on chart paper and post them in my room as "rules" so I can ask them which category they fall under as we do group work throughout the year.

Second idea:
Next, I want to do a "4 corners" activity where I give the students 4 different characteristics and ask them to determine which one is the most important one for a great student to have. The 4 characteristics (or however many you want) need to all be good...therefore there is no wrong answer. After the students go to the location for the characteristic they feel is most important each group brainstorms why they feel the way they do and then selects one person to "share out" and defend their answer.

I hope these activities will help establish a culture of good communication and quality group work. Who would have thought these ideas would be learned second hand from a basketball camp?!?! If you have any ideas please email me ( or send me a tweet (@owensteri). I will add them to this post :)

**I tweaked this idea a little but and Mrs. New and I created this presentation for the 1st day of school. Mrs. New had a great idea to use "Which one doesn't belong" activities for the 4 corners. Also, we are doing Jo Boaler's week of math activities from