First Week

Be prepared, I am going to get dramatic here.  After the end of day 3, so far this year is the best. year. ever.  And I am trying to figure out why.  I really think I can attribute the success of this year in part to starting an interactive notebook.  I also think a lot of it has to do with the amazing group of bloggers I have met who have been kind enough to share their ideas with me (and the rest of the world).  While my to-do list is just as long as every other year, the plans and activities that I prepared for these first days all turned out to work much better than I could ever have imagined.  So here are some of the things I did (I think I already blogged about all of them already, but I am going to tell how they went now!)

Day 1: Mrs. S by the Numbers (found here).  I had the kids match the numbers, then I decided to use my new white boards and markers and had the kids hold up their answers.  I loved this because I would dramatically pause before announcing my answer, then after the annoucement the kids would either cheer or let out loud groans.  I had no idea it would be so intense.  Also, as far as the whiteboards and markers went, both projects were successful, minus the one puff ball that a student ripped off.  The red markers did leave behind a red tint on the page protectors, but I can live with that.

I also assigned my Million Words or Less assignment to the kids.  I don’t know where I found it, but when I googled it, I found many many similar assignments except they were directed to the parents to write about their students.  I had my students write to me.  I assigned it on the first day (Tuesday) and it is due Friday.  Day 1, several students turned in fine assignments, they all wrote me a few sentences telling me some interesting things.  I thought, “cool, this was fun, I would do it again.”  Then Wednesday, more turned them in but I didn’t get to them until tonight.  Wow.  Several letters had me laughing out loud, and one specifically went from laughing to tears streaming down my face as I read the paragraph to my husband.  Many of the letters from this day were absolutely amazing and touching and I will for sure be reading them over and over.  I can’t wait to read the rest tomorrow.  Oh, and my toughest student, the one who hasn’t made it to class on time so far and hasn’t brought a single thing to class… Turned it in!  Yay!

Day 2: Glue in all pages into the notebook.  We only did the first 4 on that page on day 2, and did the others today on day 3.  Gluing all went great, and then came my activity. 

Since my first year teaching, I had this idea in my head and finally did it this year.  I had no idea if it would bomb or not.  But it went great!  Almost every single group came up with the answer to the problem and were so excited and happy that they could do it on their own without any help.  Success!  It also gave me a great opportunity to talk to the kids about working in groups with a fairly low stress situation. 

Day 3: Scoring Scales Match AKA The highlight of my week so far.  So while I like scoring scales, I think the kids don’t know enough or understand enough so that they understand the grade they have in class and if it is “good” or “bad”.  Students (and parents!) have a problem with a D, but a 1.0?  What the heck is that?  It is close to a 3.0, so that’s good, right?  So I had the kids cut out descriptions today and line them up in order.  Then we went through each score and talked about what it would mean.  Now this is in their notebooks so we can refer back to it.  This went great!  This also gave the kids another opportunity to work in groups with pretty low stress.

I also introduced my class to the blog I started just for my room, students, and parents.  I want to use this to post pictures and info about what we do in class each day so it can be accessed at home in case students forget their notebooks or are absent.  2 hours after school ended and 3 of the students had already started following the blog and had commented… 31 had viewed it… and I had an email from a student with a link to her own blog that she had started today to document her journey in 7th grade!!  I am in shock.  I can’t believe something that had never even been on my radar before this summer is now such an important part of my life.  So thanks to everyone out there in the math twitterblogosphere

Now that I have written this blog post, and posted something about my amazing week on facebook, I have for sure jinxed myself for a horrible day tomorrow.  But the success of my first 3 days may have been worth it!

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First Week Activities

So I was out of town this week, so I couldn’t do a #msSunFun activity.  I had planned to do it on the wiki, but since I joined the blog world this morning, I figured that was a good place to start.

The first day of school is typically very busy, so I usually give the kids something fun and engaging to work on so I can get the necessary things done.  Last year, when the kids came in, I had them work on a string and ring puzzle from this book.  I am obsessed with AIMs products.  If you teach math or science and you are not familiar with these books, go check them out right now.  They do have several free activities on the web site, and you also get activities in their monthly newsletter.  The activities are fun and engaging for me and the kids.  For the first day, the kids had a loose leaf paper ring tied on with a piece of yarn.  They had to get the ring off without opening it or cutting the string.  It was easy and allowed me to do attendance and pass some things out while the kids worked.

Last year, I also did a get to know you bingo game.  I was so excited to do this, the kids had to walk around and ask students what things on the board describe them, then that person signs that square.  The first person with a bingo wins.  Unfortunately, all of my teammates apparently had the exact same bingo idea that day, so by the last class, all of the kids had played bingo in every class and were pretty much done.  Whoops!

This year, I am so excited to do this activity.  The kids will have to match a bunch of numbers to characteristics that describe me. 

  • 15 – the age in months of my amazing daughter
  • 7 – the number of years I have been teaching
  • 24 – the age I got married , etc

Then I will have the kids do the same thing for themselves.  I think I will also have the kids put them on blank sheets of paper and decorate them so we can post them and learn about each other. 

I will also have the kids make name tags, fill out a generic info survey, and go over some basic supply lists and information.  I go over my procedures when we get to them during the rest of the week.  And the following week, and the week after that, and after that…