No Rules!

Last week was the first day of school for my district. I went through many of the first day rituals: greeting my students, introducing myself, identifying specific areas in the classroom, you know, all the usual. In the past, I have given the students the power to create classroom rules. But not this year! This year I allowed them to create Classroom Norms. I know, not so different. This year, I was completely hands off. I tasked them with working as a table group (I have 5) to list 2-3 norms they wanted for the year. I was happy to see that most were positive: listen to others, help, raise your hand, etc.

After a few minutes, I had the students sharing out what their table came up with. THEN, I asked each table to choose their favorite. They then created an illustration in Google Draw of their Norm. This was a sneaky way of me registering my students into a specific Google Classroom.

I split each table in half so that I would have 2 illustrations of each Classroom Norm. I then only allowed 2 people at each table to use their computers to create the illustrations. The results?

Draw Norm (beginning of year) Through this process, I was able to monitor relations, collaborative skills, leadership skills, attitudes, creativity, computer skills, and so much more. Now we have these great posters hanging in our room. It truly is their classroom!

Breakdown of the Process:

  1. Work in table groups to create 2-3 norms for the classroom for the year.
  2. Share out with class.
  3. Have each table group choose their #1 norm.
  4. Write down all #1 ideas on board.
  5. Split each group into smaller groups (in 1/2).
  6. Using Google Draw, the smaller groups (2-3 students) then create 1 illustration of their norm.

The teacher’s only role is to monitor students and print out the results.

Best First Day EVER

Yup, I said it. Today was the best first day I’ve ever had!

First Thing:

All the students showed up, excited about their first day of 5th Grade. We started the day with a class selfie!

First Day SelfieTeam Building/Collaboration

Who says we can’t begin collaborating on Day 1? In the name of collaboration and team work, each table group (4 groups of 6 students) was challenged with building the tallest structure they could. I explained the challenge and gave the students 5 minutes to draw, discuss, and plan their towers. At the end of the 5 minutes, each group was given the materials: spaghetti and marshmallows. Stacking TowerThe teams quickly worked together – and discovered – that their original ideas didn’t work so well. The teams quickly modified their plans, talked, and regroup. Some teams repeated this process more than 6 times. After a class reflection – discussion – they realized that they needed a solid base. Now I could have gone into some metaphor here, but I figured it WAS the first day, thought I’d give them a break.

The winning team constructed a tower that approximately 15 inches tall. It was such a hit, we will do this again, maybe building a castle or some sort of Roller Coaster.

Then There Were the Vokis

Voki – Animated Avatars! Now, I could have had students tell me about themselves on a Creating Vokispiece of paper. They could have written about themselves and drawn a picture, but come on, let’s face it – using a Web Tool is way more fun. And totally cool! So I showed them how to create one using the different characters, embellishments, and voices. And then, I let them go – free to create.

Oh my goodness, they made me laugh so hard. One boy figured out that if he wrote, “ha ha ha …” It made the character laugh. Then a few others joined in and we quickly had a chorus of animated laughter. That led to more real laughter.

In the end, we had a shark in the fire, monsters, people with purple hair, happy faces, and a whole host of other crazy avatars.

That was one AWESOME first day!