Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Favorite First Week


'Tis the season...Back to School Season! My fave! There is nothing like fresh new pencils and notebooks to go with the perfect first day of school outfit! The excitement of all that is ahead at the start of a new school year is electric. I am passionate about using that energy and excitement to start the school year with community building and learning how to work as a team. This post is part of my own math teacher community's blogging challenge. Click the Blaugust photo above for all the details to blog with us!


The first few days of school are not about your course guide, they are about building relationships with the new kiddos sitting in front of you. I have used many activities over the years during the first week of school to get to know my students and set the tone for the community I want my classroom to be. We can't have an Eclipse the first day of school every year but these are my most favorite first week activities and I know they will give you the best year ever!


My ALL time favorite thing to do the first week of school is Sara VanDerWerf's Name Tents. If you only add one thing to your teacher toolbox this year this is THE ONE! You will learn so super much about your new students. They put their name on the outside so I can learn them and respond each day on the inside. I reply at night and repeat each day the first week. It takes a little extra time to read and reply but it is time well spent. It is the best, private conversation that will lead to many more. I modified Sara's last year with different prompts: What would be your baseball walk-up song, what do you look for in a teacher, what are you passionate about, and what are your strengths we can use. Music says so much about a person and knowing what they are passionate about helped me pull out their genius and make activities that they would be interested in. I love that the kid above said he was strong and I could use him for lifting! Football was my connection with him and this simple name tent provided that for me! The name tent below shows how some students like to share in private. I love this!




Download the name tent and do this! I promise you will love it! Get Sara's or grab mine. The one pictured was last year when the first day of school was the Eclipse so I skipped Monday! The one linked has all five days. 



Also from Sara VanDerWerf is 100 Numbers, which I am certain has gone viral! And for good reason!  If you want to show your kids what group work looks like, this is the activity that does it. Go over to her blog post for the original with detailed instructions and different variations our community has made!


Last year, I added a new team building activity and it will definitely stay in my top 3. Cup stacking has been around but this activity from Math = Love adds a few twists from Middle School Science Blog

                


Students were given 6 challenges with a range in difficulty level. They could communicate verbally until they got to challenge 4 when no one could speak! Only the rubber band could move the cup. I was impressed with their perseverance because it crushed me every time their stack of cups fell!

 

Breakout boxes have been my go to for the last couple of years. I love how the entire class can participate and it shows you what each student's role will be. The leaders naturally emerge to organize while the thinkers will take a clue off to the side, and the blue personalities will keep the peace when things get intense. All the skills our students need with just simple locks and a box!


See our little community already forming? This is why I love the first week of school! I would love to get ideas from you and what you do your first week!



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