Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I Survived Week One

This past week was the first week of school and I survived. I was excited for school to start but I just need an extra week to actually get some rest before hitting the ground running. Teacher official started back last Wednesday but I received my students this past Tuesday. To start with, my first couple of weeks aren't typical since I teach a 1 to 1 iPad math class. When I taught a traditional class I would focus on classroom policies, procedures, and expectations the first week while slowly adding content into the mix starting day 3. This year the beginning of the year looks a little different.

This year the first week is all about class policies, procedures, and expectations. It's a lot of repetition and practicing what I expect from them. Since middle school 7th graders are learning to be more independent but still pretty much rely on teachers and parents at the beginning of the year, I hold off on giving out my Course Guide until the 3rd day of school. I know that the students are receiving tons of papers to be reviewed and signed by parents starting on the 1st day of school and I don't want my very important information to get lost in the shuffle.

Day 1: Students begin the day with a bell ringer/warm up. It was something simple but I wanted to set a precedent for the school year. I'd like them to know that each and every day will begin with some type of warm up.

After the warm up the students were given instructions to introduce themselves to their partner and vice versa. I picked a couple of students to introduce their partner.

Next, I introduced myself to my new students. I gave them some fun facts about me and we talked about why I was in Colorado now.

Then came the boring typical first day spill... What they need for class, policies, expectations, etc. I also gave a tour of the room. I felt like Vanna White walking around the room pointing to everything.

The time flew by and it was time for the students to go to their next class as quickly as they had come to my class. The last thing students completed before leaving was a tweet about their first day in math class. I gave them 3 options for responses and the hashtag, #1stdayinmath.

In most classes students had an opportunity to share their tweet.

Day 2: The second day seemed to go even faster than the first day. The warm up was a mini quiz about the first day of school. The quiz only consisted of 3 questions and we discussed the answers after the time was up. I told my students that this was their first participation grade. I like to give a couple of easy grade at the beginning of each quarter to set students up for success.

Next my students completed a "Find Someone Who" activity to help them to get to know their peers a little better. I revamped this review activity by eliminating the math problems and adding statements and questions. Students were instructed to introduce themselves to one another (I demonstrated this to them) then ask if they could complete one of their squares and vice versa. The squares included statements such as "Not from Colorado" followed by questions such "From where?" This was to spark conversations and maybe help them to remember one another's names. Last year I'd ask students to pass a paper to another student and they would respond with, "Who is that?" which irked me. I feel that the students should at least know one another's names if nothing else in addition to the math content that I will teach them.

To close the day students wrote me letter. Telling me about themselves. Students were given some writing points but were not limited to them. They were to tell me:
  • How did you feel about math last year?
  • How do you feel that math will be this year?
  • What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are some of your hobbies, likes, or dislikes?
  • What would you like me to know about you to better help you?
  • What would you like to know about me?
I have started reading them and these letters are extremely important to me as a teacher and I usually respond to them all with a personal note. I plan to respond to them all this year as well.

Day 3: We reviewed the course guide. I told students that I'm selfish and wanted to wait until after their other teachers had given out class syllabi before giving them mine. Some students found that funny. I began using a 1 page course guide as opposed to a traditional syllabus because going over a syllabus is BORING and it looks BORING and pretty things make me happy inside. Last year I ditched a traditional syllabus and begin using a one page course guide. I had two motives behind making the switch. A) How many parents and students actually read it beyond my reading it to the students in class? B) I wanted something that students could tape in the interactive notebooks that we'd use all year and refer to it when they had any questions about the class.

With those two things in mind I made the plunge and ditched that old, long, boring, traditional syllabus. This nifty little one pager (a little term I stole from the great @EdTechLove) packs a ton of useful information in a fun little delivery format. I feel that this one page Course Guide can take the place of a syllabus because it give important information about the class without all the boring, yet important, stuff that many don't even bother reading. Check out my post on my Course Guide on twofriendsteaching.blogspot.com.

After going over the Course Guide students completed a Scavenger Hunt as a team. I wanted the students to do something semi-fun after listening to my voice for almost the entire hour. My students enjoyed the scavenger hunt activity as much as I thought they would.

Day 4: This day was a little drab. I was scheduled to test my students using the Scholastic Math Inventory (SMI) in the library. This is not the way I wanted to end the week with my students but hey what can I say, we enjoyed the other 3 days. The test is important in placement and catching those who may need to be moved to/from a supported class or advanced class.

That concludes my 1st week back in the classroom and not only did I survive but I really enjoyed meeting my new students for this year. You can find my Course Guide and Find someone who activity on Teachers Pay Teachers in my store. Check back soon for my opinion of the SMI and how I use it to support my students throughout the year.

 Thank you for stopping by,