Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Best First Day Ever

This past Monday was our first day of school.  I woke up easily and filled with excitement to start the year.  

I never blogged about it, but last year was the worst first day ever.  I spilled my breakfast all over myself and forgot all of my stuff at home. 

This year was a complete turn around.  I dare say it was the best first day ever.

I feel like I stumbled across the secret to having a great first day that doesn't leave me feeling completely exhausted at the end of the day.

My husband has learned that I NEVER cook dinner on the first day of school. I basically come home and go to bed.  It may not have been a fancy five course meal, but I actually cooked dinner this year after the first day.  And I didn't immediately go to bed.  In fact I did a little shopping.

What's my secret?

Stations.

How have I never thought to do this before.  I know the gloriousness that is stations.

This year I decided instead of being one more teacher for the students to listen to about rules, procedures, and expectations I would have them do all the work through stations.

My coteacher and I set up five stations for the students to work through.  As they transitioned from station to station we were able to teach those transition procedures in real time.  It was great.

The Literary Maven's stations were our base for everything.  We tweaked it a bit to fit our math classroom and added a few different things.

STATION #1

Syllabus & Meet the Teachers Crossword puzzle.


We each made a page to introduce ourselves to the students.  We also had the class syllabus telling them what to expect and basic information such as supplies.  We used this Crossword Puzzle Maker to create a puzzle using the information from our Meet the Teacher pages and our syllabus.

STATION #2

Quiz Your Classmates


We created a few questions to help students get to know one another.  They had fun playing "two truths and a lie" and then discussing thing such as pets and books.

STATION #3

 

We used this Student Survey to help us get to know our students a little better.  I loved their answers to the first question about who they look up to and why.

STATION #4


This activity from Lindsay Perro is designed to be six different stations.  The students color a different section of their paper based on their information at each station.  For example color the circles blue if you are the oldest child, green if you are the middle child, red if you are the youngest child, or orange if you are an only child.  We put it all together as one station.  Our students did not have time to finish it like this and we ended up telling them they could finish it however they wanted.  They are using their finished product as a cover for their Math binder.

STATION #5

In a Perfect World


In this station we asked our students to think about, write about, and discuss what our classroom would look like in a perfect world.  We used their answers and discussions on Tuesday to discuss as a whole group and create a class contract.  My coteacher is using their answers to create a wordle to hang in our classroom.


So there you go.  That's what we did on the first day of school.  The students did all the work and we didn't go home exhausted.  I will never do another first day of school without stations.

If you did stations on the first day of school I would love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment please. :)

Or if you have any questions about the stations we did, leave me a comment about that too.  


Hope you have a great year!




Friday, August 11, 2017

Five on Friday - Back to School Style

It's Friday!

Like a real Friday - the one that happens at the beginning of the weekend before you have to go to work on Monday.  

As excited as I am about Monday I'm feeling a tad bit sad about summer coming to an end.  I'm a fan of not having a schedule and being able to do whatever I want each day.  

I've been doing some things to prepare myself for Monday and I thought I'd share them with you.


ONE.

Tuesday I went to the salon and got my nails done.  It was so nice to just sit still and relax a couple of hours before Open House.  




TWO.

Sunday night I have every intention of taking a nice hot bath with a Lush bath bomb and going to bed early.  I'm sure it will take me awhile to fall asleep so I'm going to get a head start.  If you've never used a Lush product...go ahead and splurge.  Treat yourself.  I promise you it's well worth it.  Those little green bath gels on the bottom are my favorite.  I can't remember the exact name right now.  They will make your skin so silky soft.



THREE.

I like to spend time doing something I enjoy that I might not have as much time for once school starts.  For me this summer that has been reading.  I should have this book finished before Monday.



FOUR.

It helps me feel prepared for the week to have my outfits planned out.  I don't do this all school year long, but I like to do it the first week at least.  I'm always exhausted that first week and if my clothes are picked out already, well that's one less thing I have to worry or think about.




FIVE.

And last but not least I like to have my bag packed before I go to bed Sunday night.  I do this so I can take my time and make sure that I don't forget anything.  Last year I didn't do this and I made it to school without 3/4 of the things I needed for the first day.  It was not fun and I don't want to repeat that this year.




What do you do to prepare yourself to go back to work?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Planning Procedures

It doesn't matter if you teach Kindergarten, Seniors, or somewhere in between planning your procedures is vital for a successful school year.

Do you believe that?

I do now, but if I'm honest I haven't always felt that way.

When I first began teaching I was hired to teach 7th and 8th grade Science and I had two opinions about procedures.

1.  I don't know what procedures I need to have in place.
2. Procedures are for elementary students.  Surely my 7th and 8th graders know how to complete simple task like turning in papers.

Go ahead.  You can laugh at my ignorance.  

It's pretty comical.

Now that I'm going into my 12th year of teaching I know those sweet middle school babies need procedures just as much if not more than those elementary babies.

As far as figuring out what I procedures I needed to have in place...well that sort of happened in the moment.  I would ask my students to do something and it would be complete chaos.  I knew then that we needed a procedure for that.  Or I would find myself answering the same question over and over.  We needed a procedure for that.

There are some things that I'm still figuring out.  Procedures are a very personal thing and you have to find what works for you and your students.  

Bathrooms for example.  I've read what feels like a hundred different procedures onr handling this issue, but I still haven't found the perfect {for me} procedure.  Some teachers give a certain number of passes each year or term and that works for them.  I find that I forget to ask for the pass.  Some teachers don't let students go at all during class.  My classes are 1.5 hours long and it feels cruel to me to never let a student go to the bathroom.  Some teachers have students sign out.  Some teachers take their entire class at once.  There are a ton of bathroom procedures.  I just haven't found what works for me yet.  

So if you have an awesome bathroom procedure that works for you leave me a comment and let me know.  I'd love to hear about it.

Even though bathroom procedures still have me stumped, there are some procedures that I feel I have perfected.  They work wonderfully for me and my classroom.

Today I want to share four of those with you.

ABSENT STUDENTS - MAKE UP WORK

This one took me years to find something that worked for me.  In the beginning I didn't really have a procedure at all.  Students would return after being absent and ask me for their makeup work.  The search would then begin.  What did we do two days ago?  Where did I put those papers?  Did I throw them away?  Let me just make a new copy.

It was a complete train wreck and I knew I needed a procedure to make this easier.  So I began putting names on the papers and placing them all on the corner of my desk.  Brilliant.  

Yeah not so much.  The same search still took place as those papers got buried under everything on my desk.

Now I have a "While You Were Away" crate


Inside the crate are hanging files numbered 1 - 31.

Let's say it's September 3rd.  At the end of the day I will put any handouts that we used that day in the hanging folder numbered 3.  They are all there for any students who were absent of if anyone lost their copy of the handout.  I don't lose papers and students know exactly where to look.  

When October 3rd rolls around, I simply remove any papers that are their from the previous month and add the new papers.

Simple and efficient.


PARENT COMMUNICATION LOG

I'm trying something a little bit different this year and I'm really excited about it.

In the past I've kept a binder.


Each student has his or her own page in the binder.  They are organized alphabetically by last name.



Whenever I had any contact with a parent, I made a quick note of it in the binder on that student's page.  If it was an email then I printed the email and placed it in the binder behind the student's page.

This has served me well for many years.  This year I'm going to use Google Forms as a paperless binder.  



STUDENTS NEED HELP

I teach math.  You know the subject that students tend to hate the most.

They always tend to have lots of questions before they even attempt a problem.

In my class if you are unsure of how to solve a problem there are three steps to follow.

1. Look in your Math Notebook.
2. Ask a friend.
3. Ask Mrs. Weaver


I really want my students to view me as a resource and not just a bank of answers. I have a poster in my room with the above three steps.  We refer to it often.  This past year I had a student who was the queen of questions.  She was a great student but lacked self confidence and always wanted to ask me if she was doing it correctly.  She would come over to me and I would immediately ask if she had done steps one and two.  Later on in the year I would just point at the poster.  Eventually she would walk up to me and immediately say "wait" and then she would go look in notebook and ask a friend.

This procedure and my poster displaying it has become one of my favorite things.


ENTERING THE CLASSROOM

How many times a day do you hear "What are we doing today?"  Do I need my ____ today?"

Drives me crazy!

Our "I can" statement is on the board every day which takes care of the first question.  As for what my students need for the day...

Check the board.

At the beginning of each class I have a slide displayed on the board with some simple directions for my students.


Having this on the board as soon as students enter the classroom does a few things for me.  I don't have to answer the same question thirty times because everything they need to know is on the board.  They have supplies and things ready to go so that we don't have to stop in the middle of class to get scissors or cut something out.  It helps cut down on the crowd at the supplies because they don't all walk in at the same time.



So there you have it...four procedures that work for me and my classroom.  If you have a procedure for something that is top notch I'd love to hear about it.

Or maybe you are like I was in the beginning and you're not sure what procedures you might need.

Here  are some planning pages to help you get started.
(Just click on the picture to grab them.)


Friday, July 21, 2017

Five on Friday: Engaging Students

My Students Won't Think:
A Look at Engaging Students in Higher Level Questioning in Math


Earlier this week I attended a workshop with the above title.  You never know how workshops are going to go.  Some of them are amazing and you walk away loaded with tons of ideas and pumped to put them to use as soon as possible.  And then there are those that seem like pure torture.  The presenter is reading their PowerPoint word for word - a PowerPoint on how reading a PowerPoint word for word is not a good teaching strategy. 

My Students Won't Think was one of those amazing workshops.  It was easily the best workshop I've attended in a long time.  I was writing ideas down all day and thinking about I couldn't wait to share some of the ideas with you.  



So today I want to share with you FIVE of the ideas I took away from this workshop.  Though this workshop was designed for 7-12 Math, I think these ideas can be used in other grade levels and in other content areas.

Let's get started.

ONE.

"I Notice, I Wonder"

Present you class with a problem.  Instead of asking them to come up with an answer or solution, ask them to make note of what they notice and what they wonder.  This takes the pressure off the students and allows every single student to participate.  

I don't know about you, but when I give my students a word problem they tend to pull out numbers and do a random operation.  They don't want to take the time to read the problem and think about what the problem is asking them.  

With "I Notice, I Wonder" I can give my students a word problem with blanks in place of the numbers.  Take away their ability to just guess at the correct operation.  Given the word problem without numbers, students will record what they notice as well as what the wonder.  



I believe this is really going to help my students become better problem solvers.

Now I'm sure I did a horrible job of explaining this concept so if you want to read more about "I Notice, I Wonder" just click here.



TWO.

"My Favorite No"

This idea is a great way to address those common misconceptions.  It was introduced to me as a bell ringer.  Your students all solve the same problem.  As they finish and turn them into you, you are looking over them and looking for those common misconceptions.  

You then share some of those misconceptions with the class.  You call it your favorite no.  Ask students "Why is it my favorite?  What did they do right?"  

Then ask "What do they need to work on?"  In other words why is it a no?


THREE.

"Always, Sometimes, Never"




We were given 12 cards that we had to sort into three categories: Always True, Sometimes True, Never True.  We had to explain why it fit into the category out to the side of the card.  On the Sometimes True we gave examples of when it was true.  We were supposed to also do examples of when it was false, but my partner and I somehow missed those instructions. :)

I loved all the thinking that went into this assignment.  It really solidifies understanding of these concepts.  


FOUR.

"Flip the Question"

I have seen this idea before but for some reason I saw it differently this week.  

Instead of giving students a question and asking for answer, give them an answer and ask for a question.  That seems simple, but I felt like the example he gave us was a bit more complex.

Write an equation with more than one step that has 8 has a solution.

OR

Write 3 expressions equivalent to x + 2.



FIVE.

Koplinksy DOK Knowledge


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I Teach Too Tag


What What?

Is that a video?

Why yes.  Yes it is!

I thought it would be fun to participate in the I Teach Too Tag.

I had fun making this one take video.  Maybe I'll learn to edit one day.

I mention a movie that I couldn't remember the name of in the video.

I looked it up after and it is called A Smile As Big As the Moon.

Enjoy the video.

And if you decide to participate yourself be sure to let me know.



                       

Friday, July 14, 2017

Five on Friday

ONE.

Every year it seems at least one student ask me about a class pet.  I always tell them it's enough work just taking care of them.

One year I inherited a huge fish tank.  It remained empty for a good portion of the year until one of my students caught a fish and brought it to school.  We put the little fish in our tank and named him Ryan.  Students took care of him and I did absolutely nothing until the end of the year.  I was not about to keep this fish all summer.  I took him to the river and set him free.





For whatever reason I'm considering getting a class pet this year.  Call it peer pressure.  Several of my Instagram friends have been talking about class pets and it makes me think it wouldn't be such a bad idea.

I'm leaning towards a Beta fish.  They seem like they would be easy to take care of.  Maintenance is the number one factor.  I need this pet to require little to no work.


But I also think it would be fun to have a rabbit.  My biggest thing against the rabbit is I don't think my dogs would do too well with it when I had to bring it home for breaks.


Do you have a class pet?  What kind?  

If you don't have a class pet, what's stopping you?


TWO.

One month from today students will be walking into my classroom for the first day of school.  ONE MONTH!  What have I done to prepare?  Pretty much nothing.

I just can't seem to get excited about a theme or color scheme.  I have several ideas but can't seem to put them together for one wonderful vision. 

I went to Hobby Lobby today and saw a few things that I really liked.  Maybe a vision is starting to form.







THREE.


I created these Mathematical Practices posters a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted them to be simple but after I printed them I didn't like them.  They were too simple.  But I'm not sure what it is specifically that I don't like or want to change.  What would you do to spruce these up a bit?


FOUR.

Next year I will be coteaching 7th grade Math class.  The students who will be in my class haven't experienced a lot of success in Math.  I want to change that.  I want to help them to have a growth mindset and feel successful.   I love the idea of have "The Fridge" to celebrate their growth.



FIVE. 

Speaking of growth, I've been working on a digital data tracking notebook for my students.  I believe there is something very rewarding or students when they can track and see their growth.  I'm really excited about this idea.  Right now it is simple.  I'm not sure if I want to keep it that way since I've never done anything like this or if I want to add more to it.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Five on Friday

Those items that you just can't imagine teaching without...

ONE.


I'm a huge fan of anchor charts.  They cover the walls of my classroom.  And if I'm going to make that many posters then at least my markers can smell delicious.  Sure I could teach without Mr. Sketch but it wouldn't be nearly as fun.


TWO.


My personal laminator.  This wasn't originally purchased for classroom use, but now I can't imagine not having it.  This thing has laminated countless numbers of task cards.  It's perfect when I don't have time to use the big laminator at school or when I just want the convenience of having this small one.



THREE.


File folders are such a huge help for me with organization.  I shared a little about these on instagram the other day.  I use folders to organize student paperwork.  I have two folders for each class.  One for "To Be Graded" and one for "Graded".



FOUR.


Every teacher needs a little toolbag in their classroom.  Of course this contains things that I will probably never use...maybe even some things I don't know how to use.  But I know I'm thankful for this little bag of tools.  You never know when you are going to need a hammer or a screw driver.



FIVE.


My Yeti!  Y'all I drink water all day long when I'm teaching.  I love that my Yeti keeps it cold.  And it has my name on it so that's a bonus!