Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Things First

your first day friend, Suzanne

Our days are numbered!  Kiddos will be walking into our rooms in a single digit number of days.  So where do you start?

Week 1
Relationships- Get to know your kids; have fun together. Some of my favorite "get to know you"s come from Teaching Outside the Box by LouAnne Johnson. She is the teacher that Dangerous Minds is based off of. She has students fill out an index card with contact info and include anything they think might help her teach them.  She collects each one from their desk and thanks them by name.  Then it's time for the first test of the year!!  She explains that the first test is on her.  She explains it to her students this way- "I'm going to go down the roll sheet and see if I have learned everybody's names.  If I get them all right, I win.  If I miss one name, you all get an automatic A on your first test, and you don't even have to lift a writing utensil."  *In looking back at this book, I'm reminded how awesome it is- totally a MUST READ!!

Get an Informal Baseline- Note student attitudes and work products in writing.  My favorite way to do this is to play Two Truths and a Lie.  Have each student write their 3 fun facts on an index card. Allow students to read their cards and then YOU guess. They love, love it when you're wrong, and the process of guessing helps you remember something about them and allows you a glimpse of their personality.  After each student has shared, have students choose one truth that they could tell you the story behind.  I provide this frame and then turn students loose to write. Again, notice who starts quickly, who is reluctant...

I would set a timer for 10-15 minutes to have students write.  This will be collected but definitely not graded. It's way too early for that!  This will help you see where you should start instruction and specific student needs.  

Click here for a lesson that perfectly blends relationships and information seeking. Teach commas in a series, and have students create getting to know you pitchforks for one another.  

**Pick a day in Week 2, and communicate the date and expectation that students bring a spiral or composition notebook to set up...drum roll please...interactive notebooks!!!**

Week 2
Ahhhh...week 2. I am happy to see you! Here is the return of some sense of normalcy. Schedule changes have subsided, classes are balanced, routines are in place, and we are ready to run!! So now what??

Interactive Notebooks- My #1 suggestion with interactive notebooks is to keep it simple. Not too many tabs; I certainly don't spend time numbering pages.  Check out our previous posts on interactive notebooks for tips and tricks:
I Heart Notebooks
I Heart Notebooks 2.0
Notebook Nitty Gritty

I spend a class period setting up notebooks, setting expectations, and getting a soft start.  Usually we start by creating different idea banks in our Toolbox section.

Shared Reading- If it weren't for dang schedule changes, I would start these Week 1. They are just too powerful to hold back.  You can read more about the science behind them here and access them here.  

Grammar Foldable- If I were the queen of education (which I'm having trouble finding the application form), I would have every student make a grammar foldable at the beginning of every.single. school year.  You can determine the depth and complexity that's appropriate for your grade level, but I have yet to meet a student who would be hurt by a little repetition in this area. Grammar foldable here.

We wish you the happiest of school year!  As always, let us know if there is ANYTHING (seriously, try us!) that we can do to help you and your students be successful!!

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