Algebra I Boot Camp

At the same time that our school was preparing for a 1:1 initiative last year, our math department was also preparing to revamp our curriculum to be more closely aligned to the Common Core.  As part of this effort, we decided to get of our old textbooks and ultimately chose to switch to an Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 series built for the iPad.

I teach a regular level, college prep Algebra 1 class, and the other teachers who teach this course with me decided that we needed to review some middle school skills (that used to part of our high school Algebra 1 curriculum) before we actually started the topics in the text.  I usually flip my Algebra classes anyway, but this is the first time that I have done it within the 1:1 environment.  I decided to use the review unit to try a couple of new things:  approximating the idea of a flipped mastery classroom and using some elements of game design.  I’ve heard that gamification is, to a certain extent, all about what you call things, so here’s a basic outline of Algebra 1 Boot Camp:

1.  I created a series of short videos on each topic to be covered and posted them as a playlist on my YouTube channel.

2.  I created a set of problems that corresponded to each video.

3.  I created quizzes on certain groups of topics and a test on the whole unit and set dates for each quiz and test to be taken.

4.  I gave students a Boot Camp Manual (check it out on the Raid Our Files page) that outlined the work that they needed to complete before each assessment date.  Each evening and day in class, I present certain videos that they should be watching and problem sets that they should be working on, but there is a certain extent to which they can work at their own pace.  If they don’t finish their problems in class, they can finish them at night before we go over them in class the next day.  If they finish their problems early, they can just start watching their next video in class (headphones were on my list of required materials this year!)

5.  Each time students pass one of the intermediate quizzes, they get promoted to a new level – Arithmetic Master, Variable Whiz, etc.

6.  I posted progress charts on the back wall of my classroom.  Each time my students finish a numbered section of work in their Boot Camp manual and/or move to a new level, they are able to put a start on the chart.  So far, they love it.  The stars are little thing they help them to see the fruits of their accomplishments.

Progress charts – Do you have enough stars to level up?

For laughs:  The funniest result of Boot Camp so far is that my juniors, who are taking an honors pre-calculus class and do not have star charts, wanted to know if we could come up with some charts for their class, too.

It would be so much more satisfying to do well if we got stars for it!

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