I wanted to write about the first day (with mostly pictures) so that you can get a clear idea of activities that you might want to try in your own classroom! I know that planning for the first day can be somewhat daunting, boring and repetitive (How do we get to our lockers? How do we sit at the carpet? How do we work in groups?) We know these things are imperative to teach or at least review so we give in to it and teach routines, expectations and procedures. I tend to plan on teaching all of these things, but if I see that a group doesn't necessarily need to practice how to come to the carpet, then it isn't a focus. It just becomes something they do. An expectation they know needs to be met in order to be a successful student. On the other hand, I NEVER ignore when even just one student does not do what is expected.
In between all of these lessons, I throw in some fun hands-on activities that tell me a lot more than where they traveled this summer or who they were with most days. Below each picture, I explain what is going on behind my Teacher Glasses.
Students first arrive to school with a backpack FULL of supplies. On their desk, I have a checklist and directions. They are to separate supplies (those that go in the bag provided and those that stay on their desk) and check off as they place them where they belong. Next, they put the paper in the bag, bring it to the green table in the back and then complete a journal prompt which was written on the checklist paper in a composition book that was part of the supplies they left on their desk. It is a lot, but at the same time, it's not too much.
Teacher Glasses: Who can read the directions on their own and follow completely accurately? Who needs me to explain it? Who needs me to explain it and follow-up with reminders? It was a really great assessment!
Afterwards, we had Morning Meeting where they introduced themselves to me (and I to them). They told me their name and how many years they have been at this school. Most of them are in their 8th year here!!
Here I had students create name tags for their lockers. In each corner, they drew something to represent: someone who has influenced them, somewhere special, a place they wish they could go and something they love to do.
Teacher Glasses: Who likes to be creative? Who shuts down (if anyone) when given an art-type project? Who has low confidence in this area? Who finishes just to be done? Who is a perfectionist?
Next, students shared with a partner in preparation for sharing your partner's name tag with the class. This was great because when they shared, I was able to ask interesting questions to get to know the students and have them share things about themselves that maybe their peers don't already know (after being together for 8 years!!). For example, one girl shared that her and 2 other girls run a school that the neighborhood kids come to once a month. Another student learned how to figure skate and ice skate for hockey. So interesting and fun to learn about!
Another fun activity is called My Life in Numbers! Students pre-planned what they were going to create before they finalized it on the chart paper.
Teacher Glasses: Who pre-plans? Who stays on task?
Working on chart paper.
Teacher Glasses: Who can work closely together and NOT be distracted? How long does it take to complete a project like this? What kind of numbers are they using (standard number, roman numerals, extended facts, etc)? Who relied on my example for their facts? Who got creative with their numbers?
In Everyday Math class, students practiced using their Student Reference Books by answering math problems and then finding which page in the book teaches that concept. Some worked in groups, with partners or independently (student choice).
Teacher Glasses: Who likes working with a group or partner? Who follows the directions? Which math problems can they answer accurately on their own? Who asks questions when confused? Who doesn't? Who can follow multiple steps?
Before Closing Meeting, I asked students to reflect on 3 questions: What do you look forward to in 5th grade? What are your hopes for 5th grade? How can I help you in 5th grade?
Afterwards, I wrote down the steps for ending our day. Then we all came to the carpet and completed the What Stuck with You Today? activity. Finally....
It was good-bye in a torrential downpour!