So I know, we should start with the math, with understanding what focus, coherence and rigor actually mean, with the philosophy of Illustrative Mathematics and of Open up Resources. But I am going to assume you have done your research and have already decided that the is the curriculum you will be using in the fall.
If I am wrong, I suggest a deeper dive at the sites above, and perhaps a look at Brooke Power’s Blog posts about her experiences with the 7th grade IM curriculum last year:
Sept – Seeing the Light of Conceptual Understanding
January – Letting Go of What I Thought I Knew
April- Closing the Gap
But if you are all in, I am going to start at an unusual spot – materials preparation. Not because it will give you the happy feeling that you are getting something done. It will, but it will not fool you long. The dull realization that you have no idea how to teach like this, the worry that it seems like an awful lot to manage, and the question ‘will it really be best for my kids if their teacher has a nervous breakdown in the process?’ will keep you unsettled until we address those things in future posts. Don’t worry . . . we’re gonna get there. You’ll be ready and it will be awesome.
The reason we are starting with materials prep is money. The fiscal year ends in June, and that means budgets are wiped clean and start over. In our school district, teachers have a Teacher Center account that will be reset on July 1st. Money you didn’t use by June 30th is not yours anymore, and you account balance is reset to $100 for the upcoming year. So to get the most out of that budget, you want to print as much as you can afford before the end of June (especially if color cardstock and laminate is your thing).
Before you rush to your copy machine, a tiny bit of of preparation will make life easier. Start with your computer. Whatever disorganized collection of individual pieces you have downloaded in the past is not going to do if this is your core curriculum for the entire year. So start clean. Make a folder for IM, fill it full of empty unit folders, and rename with a quick copy and paste.
You may be tempted to make folders inside each for cooldowns, student practice, assessments. Hold on . . .those will happen automatically as you download and unzip files.
Now head to your grade level curriculum site. Here I am at grade 8.
Choose unit 1, and then click on unit
downloads near the top.
For now, focus on Student Handouts. We’ll get to teacher preparation in a later post.
If your district has purchased the print workbooks for your students or if you are working 1 to 1, the only things you need to download are the Blackline Masters and the Cool-Downs. If you are without workbooks and computers, I would go ahead and download them all.
For now, we are going to focus on the black line masters. If you can take care of these things in advance you will never have a night during the school year when you have to decide between knowing what you are doing and preparing handouts.
Here is what that Unit 1 blackline master download looks like. Make sure you have downloaded in into your Unit 1 folder before you extract.
Then, go ahead and click Extract now.
PDF versus Word Downloads
A pause here for those of you who are noticing these are pdfs and the site also has word documents available. I mean, why not get something I can easily edit and personalize, right?
A couple reasons actually. I did that last January when we decided to try a unit, and editing and resizing takes TIME. It took two of us working full time on the process several days to finish all of unit 1. And it really wasn’t worth it. The cool-downs, for instance, we wanted 2 on a page because copy money and paper were scarce at some of our sites. This meant rearranging graphics and respacing. But guess what, my printer prints multiple copies per page if I chose. Why did I make it so hard??
In addition, there is a formatting issue in the word copies. (At least there was this spring. Maybe it is fixed by now? Someone comment and let us know). The numbering does not download correctly and renames problems in ways that do not match the on line images you might chose to project. Fixing all those issues was one of the big time wasters when we used the word versions.
And honestly, you really need to learn the curriculum as is. The tiny decisions of why this particular warm up are not obvious at first glance. For instance their might be a number talk warm up that brings up multiplying by fractions in a lesson on scaling, because later in that lesson, mid problem, students will need to access that skill. Although we’ll do our best to prepare, some things you won’t notice until you are mid second period next year. My strong advice is this year trust the process AND save yourself some work.
The Blackline Master Report
This little document is a lifesaver – don’t miss it! This is the list of blackline masters for Grade 8 Unit 1. A lot, but don’t worry. It had more than any other unit from grade 8.
See? Here is Unit 5:
Let’s decode for a minute looking at unit 5. The first Classroom activity you are going to use in lesson 1. It will be the second activity of that day. Hence 1.2. (The long name is 188.8.131.52, which means Grade 8, Unit 5, lesson 1, Activity 2)
For that activity you are going to need 1 copy for every 4 students. It is not a one time use, so one class set will do you for the whole day. If you look up and down the list from unit 1 and unit 5, notice there is only one time where you need a new set for each class. Classroom ACtivity 1.2 does require cutting, but that doesn’t have to happen right now. If worse comes to worse, period 1 can do that for you. It does not need to be run on card stock. Although some will chose to do that, or to laminate, to make the activity more durable, you don’t have to. I only found one or two in all of 8th grade that required cardstock, so this doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. And it doesn’t need colored paper. I know, colored paper is pretty, and if you have free access to colored paper, cardstock, a laminator, and unlimited cutting help, go wild.
So here’s how we did it with our teachers. We printed all these black line masters and master reports and loaded them into folders for our teachers so they were ready to go. First semester on side 1, second semester on side 2.
You probably have to do this yourself. If you run things off this summer, you can pass that folder around your PLC to help everyone get off to a good start.
To see what kind of time we were talking about, I went and made myself the whole year of blackline masters. It took me under two hours. I had a big stack of 9 by 12 envelopes and for each activity I dropped it in an envelope and wrote on the envelope to label what it was. I didn’t take the time to cut up and I didn’t laminate, but I did run each unit in a different color to help me keep organized as the year went on. At then end I walked out with a paper box about half filled with standing envelopes. If I was in the classroom that would just slide in the back cupboard, and as the new unit approached I would hand over cutting and bagging jobs to the students that are inevitably hanging around my classroom at lunch or before school.
A warning – one of our schools, so excited after the IM training we had, went to the teacher center together to knock materials prep out. They used colored card stock and laminated everything with the high quality lamination machine. Several hours later they were only finished with a little more than two units and had blown their whole collective budget at the teacher center. And that much uncut laminating takes up way more space than my one little paper box, so the cutting has to happen now. Once they are all cut and rubber banded they will be awesome, but right now, it has turned into a big, expensive job.
I love the pretty laminate, but don’t trap yourself into thinking it is a must have. If this year you run them all just on paper without laminating, that can work. Spend your evenings this year learning the curriculum – what math am I supposed to get out of this activity? Being able to connect and synthesize the lesson is about one million times more important to your students learning.
I hear your self -talk.
“But the laminated cardstock is so pretty! And it will last forever if I just put in the work this one time.”
Don’t kid yourself. Unless this is your first year, you know it won’t. Their will be the pieces that get lost, the pieces that get used to hold someone’s piece of chewing gum, the pieces that get thrown away as a group cleans up, or swept into someone’s backpack. And when you go back to make one more set, the color of the paper will be slightly off. And it will drive you crazy. You know it’s all true.
You know what prep will last forever? The knowledge you develop, the connections you make, the understanding you grow within yourself as a teacher and a mathematician. Put your time in there.
So yes, go use the rest of your 17/18 school budget and get some materials made. Go back in July and knock the rest out. If you keep it simple, you can be done this summer, and spend your limited time during the year focused on prepping the instruction. You won’t regret it.
A few quotes from teachers who taught out of IM 6-8 this year:
I became a better teacher in year 13 thanks to @openupresources and the #LearnWithIM curriculum. I’m not sure I ever thought a curriculum would make me better but @IllustrateMath did. Then @Milken helped give me a stronger voice and now the sky seems to be the limit. So thankful. pic.twitter.com/0DoIr684O6
— Brooke Powers (@LBrookePowers) May 30, 2018
Up next – All in with OUR/IM – The Big Picture.