Get Them Hooked Early

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Today was my first day back with students for the school year. I purposefully planned a fun day. I am a ‘different’ kind of teacher. I am definitely NOT your run of the mill, follow the textbook teacher. I want the kiddos to really get that message. We did art, a Breakout, and created TERRIBLE (on purpose) presentations and presented them.

At some point in the afternoon, one of the boys stated that he wanted to write a book. I thought this was great. I told him that I started playing with an app over the summer that created books. He thought that was interesting. Then, I showed him a short book I created on Book Creator.

Book Creator example by me

The book isn’t particularly good. I was exploring the tool and thinking of ways to use it in our classroom. However, when I showed the boy that some of the possibilities: voice overs, inserting your own image and text his eyes nearly popped out of his head. He looked at me, mouth wide open, and said, “I want to do that!”

I got him hooked! I can’t wait to use this in the classroom. The students will have so much fun creating their own books. THIS is going to be an EPIC year!

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.

First Day

Start Off Positive

We’ve all heard this, but what does it really mean? Yes, we all greet our students at the door and welcome them with a smile on our faces. Many of us have ‘fun’ activities planned in order acclimate our new students to our ways, rules, expectations, and personality. How many of us bust out the technology on the first day? How many of us have students creating something meaningful the first day?

Here’s what we did

  • Wrote out all expectations (learning goals, personal goals) on sticky notes and posted them around the classroom. As a group, we read them and talked about them. What I think I will do next year: write these expectations on a Google Form, take their answers and create a word cloud using abcya, wordle, tagxedo, or tagul (my personal favorite).
  • Paper Bag 5 ‘W’s – I wish I could site this, as it wasn’t my idea. I read it online somewhere. The idea is to give each student a paper bag with 5 items in it (I put in a pencil, eraser, Hershey Hug, mini candy, and a Smartee). Students answer the 5 W questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why). They then take the bag home, put in 5 items that represent them, and present it in class the next day. A bonus was, I was able to see the quality of their writing in a low-risk setting.
  • Students also worked together in the Marshmallow Challenge. I modified it to fit my needs. Students used spaghetti, mini marshmallows and 4 large marshmallows. I was able to see which groups/individuals communicated, collaborated, planned, thought out, and were innovative.
  • Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 2.41.29 PMFinally, each student created a Voki to tell me a little bit about themselves. This was a fun way for students to introduce themselves to me. They got to use technology, create something meaningful, and were able to view it online (and show their families). Here is my class and the other class (Mrs. Pursley).

This was a great way to begin the school year! We just finished our second week, and things are going GREAT. I am blessed with an amazing group of students. This may be the best year yet (and that’s saying something as this is my 20th year teaching).