I am not a big fan of this regardless of the level of the students, but looks like I will have a class mixed of Algebra I and Geometry kids.....in the same class period. The problem is that there are only 5Geometry students and about 20 Algebra. I really need pointers on how to structure this class. These kids get high school credit for passing the final and I don't think this scenario is best for kids. These are 8th grades by the way. I have only been teaching a few years but I feel I have doing a decent job. But I do not know how this is supposed to look and I am afraid I will do a half-ass job for both subgroups which is not fair to them. Any thoughts?

I guess you could give independent practice to one group, maybe on the skill taught the previous day, while you give direct instruction to the other group, then switch. This is the type of thing that SPED teachers do every day when we teach combined grade levels. I've never taught middle school, so I don't know if it would work the same way as elementary, so take my suggestion with a grain of salt!

Okay, so you have to teach two classes at the same time. I don't think it's as crazy as it sounds at first. Algebra and geometry go hand in hand anyway. First, re-think the way you approach algebra. When presenting the topics of algebra, introduce the "logic" of the solution. The work that students should be writing down anyway constitutes a mini-proof. Here's where you can teach a whole class lesson, getting the geometry students their start, and enriching the algebra students. Second, Geometry can be a very solitary pursuit if you structure it right. Look at the textbook "Discovering Geometry" by Michael Serra (published by Key Curriculum Press). Granted, this is a College text; however, the approach is a "building up" of geometry, starting with a single straight line and having the students discover all the properties, theorems etc. from there. I'm sure there's a way to adapt whatever text your district uses in this manner. If you do that, then you can do a short lesson with your geometry students, and set them to group activities to "discover" the full lesson on their own (and you even get points from the constructivist learning camp). Take advantage of every place Algebra and Geometry overlap. All that graphing you do in algebra can be brought into the lessons for the geometry students, and you can reinforce the geometry student's grasp of algebra by using equations in the "find the angle" problems they'll inevitably need to solve.

If they're doing geometry in 8th grade, they're advanced students, right? They could probably work independently or in a small group in one corner of the classroom and meet with you the last 10 minutes of every class while the algebra students do independent work. If you have a good textbook, they can probably teach themselves and teach each other. Is it fair? Is it right? Probably not, but I learned both geometry and algebra II this way in high school (long story, we had no honors sections and the teachers didn't know how to differentiate).

I hope you have insanely good classroom management skills. Discovery learning is a nice idea, but keeping a group of 8th graders on task while you teach a completely different lesson to another group is going to be quite a challenge. I presume the geometry kids are the best and brightest which could be to your advantage as they tend to be easier to manage. This said, I couldn't imagine pulling this off with my Sophomores....much less 8th graders. My suggestion would be to pull the geometry group asside and explain the situation to them. Give them sections to figure out as a group and set up specific times in class when you will be checking on their progress as well as helping them. I would try hard to not come off as saying "You're on your own" as they will quickly hear that, but I would establish very high expectations of effort from them.

I think you're going to have to sit down with the two syllabi and really look at this. As mm said, there can be a LOT of overlap between the two courses, and that's great. For example, both courses probably deal with angle pairs, Pythagorean Theorem, and area/volume problems. But there's a LOT of disparity between the two courses as well. And to do justice to all your kids, you're going to have to juggle the two separate courses. I think you're going to have to alternate whole group instruction with practice or discovery or something else that's less teacher centered. So you're teaching the geometry kids as the algebra kids are doing a bunch of factoring problems. And the geometry kids are doing a few practice proofs as you explain how to solve a Mixture problem. I've done it lots of times in summer school, though there the kids had at least been exposed to the concepts before. So here's how I think I would start: Outline exactly what you need to teach in each class. I would set up a chart, numbering the lessons, along with a title and the practice and homework problems in the textbook. Then set up a schedule. You'll need to have it in writing, just to ensure that both halves get an equal share of your instruction. (of course, you can occasionally mix things up.) So on Monday, the Algebra kids get your attention while the geometry kids start working on their own, and on Tuesday it's reversed. I would start each class with ONE activity-- SAT prep or something. And you'll need to coordinate testing and quizzes. It's hard to take a test on proofs if your teacher or classmates are talking about equations with variables on both sides. I test every 2 weeks, on whatever material I've covered-- that may be your best approach here, since it's unlikel that they'll finish chapters of 2 different books at the same time.

I agree with the testing together. It is definitely hard to take a quiz or test when others are talking. I do different groups in my math classes as well...Try teaching your algebra students while your geometry students work on a higher order thinking word problem for the first 15-20 minutes of class. Then allow your algebra students time to work on the higher order thinking problem or their homework, while you teach the geometry students for 15-20 minutes. If you have a 40 minute period it works well. If you have longer, then you have time to help all students begin their homework for the evening. Not sure if you can teach a lesson in 20 minutes. That's been the hardest part for me. But I really stick to it and it works pretty well.

In my other life (for the first 14 years of my teaching career) I taught Middle and High school math. The last 8 of those 14 years I was in a very small school (we had about 150 students from k-12) so almost every math class I taught was combined - either grades or topics. I would have up to 30 students in a class and I needed to run between 2 and 4 curriculums each time. When it was just 2 curriculums I was actually able to take a pretty traditional approach to teaching. I would spend half the class working with each group while the other half did seat and/or practice work. They quickly learned how to whisper very quietly so as not to bother the other group who were doing a group lesson. The students knew that if their group was on "second lesson" week that they could save about 25 minutes worth of homework to do at the beginning of class. They always had a unit project that they could be working on if they had their work done so that was not an issue. So the class would go like this: Week 1 - Group 1 had lesson first 25 minutes and work second 25 minutes while Group 2 did the opposite. Week 2 - Just flip it around! The students actually liked being the 2nd group as it gave them a bit of time to whisper together to figure things out that they generally wouldn't when seatwork happens before homework time. I had to make some modifications to homework checks but the students quickly learned that they still needed to do some homework so that they were done in time for the lesson as we always started with questions and built on concepts they were to learn. They had to be responsible for that. Others have already mentioned testing days. It is very important to do testing at the same time so everyone has the same advantage of a quiet room for testing. It is tempting to teach to one group while the other is testing but it is not fair to the students.

Do you have access to moodle or blackboard and computers in the classroom? I wonder if you could have one group doing something online and give direct instruction to the other group and switch, and then also teach both classes together when there is overlap.

If you have a projector and PowerPoint or a SmartBoard, you could make lesson instructions or examples for the students to follow if they are the group that does their work time first. Then, when you give instruction, it will be more directed to their questions and concerns.

I thank you for all of your suggestions. I think I failed to mention that I also have grade level math and a lower level grade level math. Makes for an interesting day. I really made an issue out of this and that all of the "we do what's best for kids" was lost with this group albeit small, but is that their fault? In the end I got someone else involved and it paid off. I will act as another resource if needed but they will be bussed to another school where kids are already bussed for the same situation. To take Geometry. So again I thank you and although I will not have them, I can truly focus on preparing the 25 other kids for Algebra. Thanks again everyone.