Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School

I thought this was too funny - I realized I had to wake up waaaay too early this morning compared with the rest of the summer when my dogs didn't even wake up with me!  They usually hop right up the minute our alarm clock goes off - but not today!

We successfully had our first day of school today!  We were supposed to start back yesterday (Monday), but Typhoon Bolaven had other plans.  We have block scheduling so that meant we had to start the school year on a B-day - I wasn't super thrilled about that until I realized it meant the students got their lockers today. 

We have a unique schedule over here - instead of having a traditional homeroom where the kids meet every morning, we have something called seminar.  It's essentially a study hall period, except that the entire school has it the same block.  This allows teachers to request students for extra help, to make up work, or whatever.  This is the class where students take care of a lot of the administrative stuff, like lockers.  Since it always falls on the second period of B day, the kids weren't going to get lockers the first day of school (which is kind of a pain).  Our schedule also rotates, meaning each class isn't at the same time each day, except for seminar.  This works well because it means you get to see the students at different times of the day, and you don't always have the same class that is five minutes shorter because of the morning announcements or lunch or whatever.  It is a little confusing to get the hang of at first though. 

My first day was very successful, and probably my smoothest to date - except that I forgot my classroom key and school ID at home.  Brilliant.  Thankfully, I had allowed myself some extra time for any hiccups, so I was able to take care of that. I had the kids start off with making name tags for themselves so I could use them to help learn names.  I also had some pretty specific directions for them, so I found out pretty quickly who can follow directions well - and who my independent workers are.

I always have the students take a pop quiz that's all about me the first day.  It's a fun way for them to get to know some things about me, and it makes me giggle when their eyes get really big at the mention of a quiz.  I usually give the person with the highest score a small prize, so this year I handed out math bucks, and used this activity to introduce what they are.  The kids all seem really excited about math bucks (I talked about them here), so that made me happy.

We played a new icebreaker game today - one I stole from Middle School Math Rules.  There are sheets of paper with numbers up around the room, and I ask a bunch of questions that have a number for an answer - such as how many siblings do you have - then all kids move to the sheet of paper with the correct answer.  It was fun to watch them move around, and interesting for me to hear some of the questions they have.  For example, I now know one of my classes is going to need a LOT of details when I am giving directions (they had a follow up question for about every question I had - such as: do step-siblings count?  What if they don't live with you? Ect.)  One really funny question I asked was how many questions would you like for homework each night - if you guessed their answer would be zero, you'd be right!  I did have some students choose differently, but 90% were at zero.  I used that opportunity to explain my homework policy. 

After that, I had them decorate their math notebook covers with old magazines and permanent markers and passed out textbooks.  I was really worried when I was writing the plans that this wouldn't take the entire period so I had a back up activity planned - scattergories vocab.  I stole this idea as well, but I can't remember who from - if it was you, let me know and I'll give you credit for it!  I basically have the students come up with a math vocab word for every letter of the alphabet.  The catch is that they have to know what the word means.  We go over it as a class, and if someone else has their word they have to cross it off the list.  They get a point for each unique word that they come up with.  I think I'm going to keep that activity handy for a day when my plans do run a little short - which inevitably happens.  Honestly, we could replay that game as we go through the year and they learn new vocabulary.

I was a mean teacher and gave them homework the very first day too - I had some who were not so pleased.  I assigned them a math questionnaire that will be due next week.  In it, they will answer some questions about their thoughts, feelings and goals for math to help me get to know them a little better.  I also sent home a parent interview so I can get the parent's perspective on their student. 

I get to have a second first day tomorrow, where I meet my A day students. One of the other math teachers has a student teacher this semester, and we're trying to make sure she gets to see a lot of different approaches to the first few days back, so she is going to come observe one of my classes tomorrow to see how I do things.  I think it should be fun, especially since my classes went so smoothly today.

How did everyone's first day go?  Or, if you haven't had it yet, what are you planning on doing?


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