Have you ever walked by classrooms on the first day of school where teachers are reading through pages and pages of rules and expectations? Ever looked at their student's faces? Here they are anxious and eager to start school....and we spend hours of precious classtime going over rules. Face it rules are pretty much the same everywhere. If the kids help you make them or if you just hand them out.
Planning a dynamic first week of school that engages the student's mind and heart is critical to establishing strong relationships for the year. Soooooooooooooooooo
I'm starting off a little bit differently. Borrowing from a terrific idea that I read about via a #made4math post, I've created a SmartBoard quiz called " Mrs. Ratzel by the Numbers" quiz for that first day. 9 or 10 of the most important numbers in my life...and a way for me to help students connect. At the end of my quiz, they'll have to tell me the 5 most important numbers in their life and why. So thanks to Amber Caldwell for this terrific idea.
I asked the question, gave them options as to why it was important and then I used the Object Animation feature to "hide" the real answer. Once they offer their ideas, I'll tap the hidden textbox to reveal the "right" answer. It shoud be great fun and set a positive sharing note between us. What I'm most looking forward to though, is the 5 most important numbers in their life. I'm sure they'll be funny, sad, ridulous and help me learn more about my students.
My second big move is to change up how I review the most important concepts from the previous year. I need to collect pre-assessment kinds of data without doing a pretest. So I took a look at the last few mathematical investigations students completed in 7th grade. I thought about the big questions they should have been answering...things like
- What are variables?
- Do the variables demonstrate a linear pattern?
- What can patterns can you see in the data, tables and graphs that lead you to believe that it's a linear relationship? (the clues)
- How do changes in one variable show up in the other variable? Can you tell identify the dependent and independent variable?
- How do you know which representation (table, graph or equation) is the best to use in answering a question?
All these questions have been the focus of their math programs for 6th and 7th grades, so nothing should be new or shocking.
But what I've chosen to do is to pair students and ask them to answer these questions using their very best math vocabulary and showing examples that prove their point. I'm going to hand out their 7th grade textbook so they can easily find example problems or ideas to use...and we'll see how well they can articulate their understandings.
I've also chosen to work on this for several days so I can observe them strategizing on a problem, how well they can time manage and organize, and have a less formal format to the class where I can chat and get re-acquainted.
I'm also going to be able to see who wants to go the extra mile and find connections back into their real-world lives. They have the problem examples (race walking, car washes, and t-shirt sales) from their textbook and I'm hoping they'll find others by talking with their parents, neighbors and each other.
Students will need word bank and/or the class word wall because I don't know how much they'll remember. I see using math's specialized words as an integral piece to being able to communicate precisely and effectively.
As I learn about my student's knowledge from the worktime conversations or their answers to these questions, I will know exactly how to build the review into "On the Bell" problems and throughout the instructional time. If I see that I have a whole clump of students that are missing a skills they'll need, I can quickly and easily build in a mini-lesson. So rather than using 2 or 3 weeks to review and then getting started on the grade level learning targets, I'm going to jump right in after this pre-assessment and review as we move along.
I've created a new way of collecting student feedback with exit slips. Students will have a paper slip to put in a red, yellow or green bucket on their way out the door. Students will write down their biggest "ah-ha", a question they still have or something they want me to know. I can read through all of these to form up the next day's lesson and help keep me in touch with concerns/pulse of each class.
I'm looking forward to this First Week of School....I'll have time to get to know students and to measure what I need to review.