I'm very excited to start the 2012-2013 school year. But not everything goes according to plan. You knew it was going to be one of those days when
- I don't have any handouts copied for the first full day of school because the copier has been broken for days
- my classroom phone doesn't work (which might actually be a good thing)
- the printer isn't connected to my computer so to print I have to send my files to a friend and have them print for me
- there isn't computer lab space for the first two weeks of school
- the classroom furniture hasn't arrived so I'm using these ginormous, heavy science lab tables in the interium
Yep that's how my day was trending and it wasn't even 7:30am!!!!
I just couldn't face that, so I decided to turn it around. I decided that I could greet the incoming 6th graders as they arrived for the Orientation Program. I stood out in front and welcomed everyone, commented on Back to School clothes and new haircuts! Such a boost to see everyone anxious to come inside and see what we had in store for them. Now I had my mindset turned around....it always happens that way doesn't it? Focus on interacting with students and somehow everything turns out much better.
Building on that momentum, I gave up on trying to print, call or use the computer.
We had created a good welcome back plan for study skills but without computers we'd need to reformulate. I had a good plan down for my math classes with my Mrs. Ratzel by the Numbers . We'd planned to start off learning how to use Geometer's Sketchpad in study skills...doing tutorials and reflecting on the geometry. That would have helped me do things inside the math class, but now that's on hold until we get computer lab space.
Instead we're going to concentrate on doing a pretty cool First Weeks of School project centered around American History, the International Day of Peace and geometry. Odd combo you might think. The idea of International Day of Peace to create small acts of peace that you can share and our art teacher wants to build pinwheels to show support.
We took that idea and figured out how to add things that surrounded our curriculum.....built in a bunch of Common Core kinds of writing in the content area. Right from the standards.... Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. And don't forget Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Check. Two CCSS standards in one project...and it's actually going to be interesting and fun....here's how.
We'll help students examine how people looked for peace at the end of the Civil War (8th grade social studies curriculum) using primary documents. I found an amazing song called Dove of Peace at the Library of Congress. We'll help students process how those feelings are similar to what people are currently experiencing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria to name just a few. And our 8th graders will write their reflections on those connections and their hope for the future.
We'll also work with Geometer's Sketchpad to design different pinwheels. This will allow us to help students learn the different tools and they can have some fun. The art teacher will then help them to incorporate the elements of design....will it be colors, what colors, will there be text, what text would be appropriate...and more. Lastly our students will have the chance to meet live via Skype with the founder of Peace One Day and then take a gallery stroll through all their artwork and written pieces.
Eventually we'll combine all the pinwheels and the reflections onto this curved wall in our building. It will be a testimony to what our students believe about peace, help them see a purpose for learning history and show them how to use geometry/art principles to design something.
Art is such a terrific connector....and I'm lucky to work with a collaborative group of teachers who wanted to make something engaging, intellectual and interesting for students during those first few weeks of school.
Who the heck cares if the "stuff" around me doesn't work and isn't ready. I am excited and we're going to have a wonderful first few days of school.
Images for this post were used from the Pinwheels for Peace program and shows what students have made in previous years. And the Dove for Peach lyrics were copied from a primary document in the Library of Congress collection.