Monday, August 06, 2018

First Days of School: Developing a Dynamic Teaching/Learning Team

What we do in the first days of school sets the stage for the entire year.

I like to use the first days to initiate positive relationships, build team, assess needs, interests, and passions, and begin to teach the standards-based curriculum set.

This plan requires attention to detail, preparation, and the ability to flexibly fit the lessons and efforts to the the needs and interests of students, colleagues, and system-wide initiatives.

To do this well, I create and prepare a number of early year lessons, and then prioritize and embed those lessons into the start-of-the-school year.

Right now the lessons I've created and will foster include the following:

Homeroom Team Building, Social Studies, and Science Lessons

Day One

  1. What's your name? Read name list. Discuss importance of names. Show funny name video.
  2. Review sign in, lunch count, and class jobs procedures.
  3. Review supply list. Make sure that every child has supplies he/she needs. Organize and store supplies. Collect summer math study packets (review in evening).
  4. Review room set up, assign studio stations and discuss set-up, expectations, and share.
  5. Review recess rules, recess.
  6. Focus on What is a team? What makes a team strong? Introduce notecard tower activity. Students work with team to create note card towers. Students complete lab reports, meet and share. 
  7. Review and practice transition and lunch routines. Review schedule.
  8. Begin read aloud. Visualization and Empathy to understand historic context and roles as we read historic texts including James Printer, a Novel of Rebellion
  9. Review homework: make a word find of classmates' and teachers' names by hand on graph papers so every child get to see and read each others names. 
  10. Review end-of-day routine and recess.
Day Two

  1. Collect homework. Review names, jobs, needed forms, news board, and routines again. Just Breathe: Making the most of the mindful moment and other morning routines. 
  2. Tell the story of our United States Constitution, and review school handbook which is like a constitution for our school. What makes our school handbook similar or dissimilar to the United States constitution? Active Reading: The Student Handbook: What do we do well and what can we get better at--how can we shortlist the handbook rules and protocols to a memorable phrase, sign, poem, or acronym? How can we make these rules and protocols are own?
  3. Work in teams to determine our class government? Share ideas. Work on using handbook and class government ideas to write a class constitution. 
  4. Review transition, recess, and lunch routines. Recess
  5. Work with folders to create window collages of what everyone sees and knows about you (outside of folder) and parts of you that people might not know and that you want to share in this activity. (Integrating SEL chapter 6)
  6. Review homework: Parent/Guardian timeline interview
  7. Read Aloud
  8. Recess
Day Three
  1. Review names, jobs, and routines again.
  2. What is the Declaration of Independence? 
  3. What was the context of time, place, and experience that led Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence and what does the phrase "All men are created equal" mean today? How can we rephrase this for our classroom?
  4. Read the Declaration of Independence together. Discuss history of "All men are created equal" and if that stands the test of time? How can we rephrase that statement for modern times and for our grade-level team?
  5. Review transition, recess, lunch routines. Recess
  6. Review timeline project. 
  7. Time Line Prep: parent interview, template, Dream Me activity, and ImportantChanges (Integrating SEL p. 82-84) Coordinate with tech teacher. Prepare for the project which will be completed in tech class. Self Awareness with Timelines: Students will create a time line that includes a parent or guardian's main event before they were born from birth onward, their own main events, and 4-5 events they imagine for their future. This will be done in technology class. Prepare for this activity with early-year homework and classwork including "Dream Me" activity from chapter 6 in Integrating SEL. 
  8. Read Aloud
Many early year activities
come from this book. 
Days Ahead in Homeroom
  • Review TeamFive website together. Introduce computer use, protocols, safety, digital citizenship. 
  • Marshmallow-Spaghetti Towers
  • Team Talk: What is a learning community? What makes a learning community successful? What matters when it comes to being a successful learner? What matters when it comes to being a positive learning community member?
  • Complete class constitution, sign, and hang up for all to see. 
  • Set up showcase portfolios and complete Happiness Surveys at start of year. Review this with colleagues -- front page cover ideas and back cover potentially "one word posters."
  • Your one word project and Video with Students. Teach/Review Google Draw.
  • Personal Assessment: Godilocks Games (p. 94-95) is a good activity for children to do an early assessment of themselves. This will provide good information for teachers and family members as they goal set with and for students.  (SEL book)
  • What is a Hero? Who are your heroes? Identifying honorable characteristics, finding people to look up to, learn from,  and follow in real time, history, and literature, sharing the story of Malala.
  • What is your point of view or perception? The birds story, a discussion on classroom needs, wants, and desires.
  • Peer Pressure: Do I Dare Do It (Integrating SEL p. 84-86)
  • Study Skills: What do you really think? (Integrating SEL - chapter 6, Socratic Method)
  • Humor Helps: Integrating SEL p.89-90. I'd like to turn this into an activity where students can create a cartoon, write a paragraph, or write and act out a script. I may integrate this with the writing, art, and/or tech teacher. Students love the integration of humor into the classroom and as one who is very serious, I can see how helpful this would be. 
  • Behaviors at School: To get a head start on conflict resolution and language related to bullying behaviors, students and teachers will use the pyramid on top of the page to discuss the kinds of behaviors that can happen at school, and the appropriate ways to prevent and if needed respond to those behaviors in an effort to build a more caring and helpful classroom community. 
  • STEAM TeamworkCrossing the peanut butter pit (Integrating SEL - chapter 5), Alphabet Actors (p. 94), Can-moving activity (p. 102) and similar activities such as note card towers (p. 108) and marshmallow or gumdrop structures.
  • Where do you want to live? Introduction to environmental education (Integrating SEL - chapter 6)
  • Solar Ovens STEAM activity - embed SEL questioning and activities from Integrating SEL, chapter 6 egg drop activity.
  • Resilience/Grit Activity. Integrating SEL p. 86-87
  • Curiosity: A Critical ElementUse this lesson from Integrating SEL, Chapter 6 as introduction to current events learning/teaching.
  • Think Positive activities and study Note that several of these activities can be integrated with physical education and music class too. 
  • Self Control Lessons (Integrating SEL chapter 5)
  • The Conflict Within (p.106) - this might fit nicely with the writing program
  • Trust Walk (p. 104-105)
  • Difficult Choices (p. 105-106)
  • Deserted Island (p. 107)
  • Reflection (p. 109-110)

Days Ahead in Math Class
  • History of people, skin shade, timeline - "The past affects the future." video
  • Pattern exercise
  • Boaler "Everyone can learn math" Ted Talk
  • Create math class norms, math study spaces/groups and routines for the math classroom. 
  • What's your number?
  • Review summer study, warm-up on facts while learning about equations, expressions, signs using Google draw, games, and more.
  • Introduce and set up reflection journal
  • Symphony Math introduction, practice during RTI blocks
  • Early year assessments.
  • Establish Math Routines, Teach Tools:
  • How to use math tools: rulers, calculators, tiles. . . .Using visualization in math and science as we learn about and practice with essential tools: color continuum, number lines, rulers, thermometers, place value chart.
  • Equations and Expressions: Using self control and choice to assist your learning and performance (Integrating SEL. . .p. 62-68)
  • Math reflection/metacognition - the math journal
  • Begin First Unit: Place Value