First days of school are a mixed bag (Ideas for you here, here, and here!)  But once you get through that first day, what do you do on day two?  I don't waste time.  I want to know where my students are right away.  I get my students into unit 1: expressions ,equations and inequalities with notes.  This unit is entirely review.  I expect a good amount of independence.

I like to get students up and moving.  Students get a set of graphic organizers and a challenge.

The challenge is to complete them with as little help as possible.  There are 4 areas set up in the room for completing the notes with varying degrees of support: individual, partner, hint and complete notes.  Students cannot go to the complete notes area until they have exhausted all other areas AND shown their organizers to me.  After completing notes as best they can, they can go to any of the other areas.

• Part 1: Individual What do I know.  Students complete (in pencil) as much of the graphic organizers individually.  This is the time for them to reflect on what they remember from Algebra 1.
• Part 2: Partner area.  When 2 people have arrived, they partner off and compare ideas/notes.  Students partner off in groups of 2 as needed.  No groups of 3 until the very end if there is an odd number of students.
• Part 3: Hint, please.  I have various hints set up for each section of the notes.  For example, the hint for the commutative property might be "going backwards and forwards, it's all the same."
• Part 4:  Complete notes.  After checking in with me, students can go to the complete notes area with a colored pencil.  They complete the remaining notes with this pencil as well as check the notes they did do.  The colored pencil is my check to make sure they came to me for review (they can't get a colored pencil otherwise) and to give me a quick way to visually check how well students are prepared for unit 1.

Want to try it?  Grab a FREE set of real numbers graphic organizers to start off your year here.

This is one of several posts on teaching Algebra 2.  Topics in the series include:
Algebra 2 Day 2
Linear Equations and Functions
Systems of Equations