Day one in any class sets the tone for the year.  I know teachers who don't smile, teachers who spend time on scavenger hunts of the syllabus, and others who like to do get to know each other activities like human bingo.  The importance of getting to know other students is important as I have written about previously (for more reading see importance and my favorite back to school activity).

By the time students are in Pre-Calculus, they are both serious and know what is expected, for the most part.  So, instead of spending time on any of the above on day one, I set the tone by simply establishing my expectations by getting to work.  We jump in feet first with a rapid Algebra 2 review.  The purpose of the review is twofold:

1. We are here to work, and you can do it!  I start off with this set of review notes and questions to establish that this class is serious.  I expect students to step up to the challenges that are set forth before them.  I don't tell them this, I show it by expecting them to work on day one.  Students work at different times during this activity individually, in partners, and in small groups.  Students know that they will be working in these different ways.  Students also learn that I rarely lecture and will expect students to be active participants in their learning of Pre-Calculus, not simply recipients of lectures.
2. What are we starting with?  Reviewing Algebra 2 gives me an idea of where my students are in terms of their knowledge.  Most of the students can fly through linear equations and functions, quadratics, and systems of equations, but as we get to sequences and series, conic sections, logarithms, and polynomials the big holes start to pop up.  I note the outcomes of the review for each student as a kind of head's up as to places where students may need extra support as we go through Pre-Calculus concepts, many of which overlap concepts from Algebra 2.

This is part of a series of posts focused on teaching PreCalculus.  Topics include:

PreCalculus Day 1
Functions and Graphs
Polynomials
Exponents and Logarithms
Trigonometric Functions
Applications of Trigonometry
Systems of Equations and Matrices
Analytic Geometry in 2 and 3 dimensions
Discrete Mathematics
Introducing Limits - the Calculus of PreCalculus

Math Mondays is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.