First Week in a New Grade

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while now, so I might as well start now!

My name is Sundey, and I’m a second year teacher. I taught the 7th grade last year, and I’m moving to 6th grade this year to help pilot our new curriculum. I have three preps,  regular math 6 class, an accelerated class, and an intervention based class which is a secondary math class for students who need more support.

I would like to share my first week of school in hopes of maybe giving others ideas, and to also give myself something to look back at next year so I can improve upon it. The first week back this year started after Labor Day, meaning it was only a 4 day week.

Below, I will insert my lesson plans. I keep my plans on google slides, making them easily accessible, editable, and it gives me the ability to link to documents I use throughout the school year for easy access following years.

Week 1 Plans

Day 1

This day was hectic. The first day back is only for 6th graders, and the period is cut in half. In the morning, students spend time learning about the school, and working with 7th and 8th grade teachers and run through their classes the second half of the day.

20190903_110544

I had students come in, and find their seat. I taped a list of names of students who sat in each seat for each period. This only ended up working due to having 8th grade assistants in the room who were able to help seat students. Next year, I think name tents will work better.

Speaking of name tents, I borrowed the name tent idea from Sara Vanderwerf. I had done something similar in San Diego for an AVID training so I was SUPER excited for this. But, it flopped! Only having 20 minutes, I wrote directions and had a picture example on the board for students to follow when they came in. Some students followed them, most did not. I ended up with partially completed name tents and no last names so I couldn’t distinguish them between students with the same name. Next year, I will walk students through completing them rather than give a picture example and expect them to follow. This will also ensure I’m not distracting them with talking when they should be making a name tent.

 

Day 2

After having messed up the name tents, I decided to adjust. I wrote down any student questions and answered them in front of the whole class on this day and owned up to messing up with the name tents. I told them we will all make mistakes in here, it’s just important we can learn and grow from them (yay teaching moment).

Today I passed out the class syllabus and told them about myself. I did NOT think it would take so long to describe what a syllabus was. I hadn’t really thought about 6th graders never having received one before. I also feel like I spent a lot of time talking about myself on this day, but all of the students seemed engaged and were asking me questions. Maybe next year, I will spread out sharing about myself over the course of a few days, or I’ll put the information around the room for a scavenger hunt?

We also did mystery student today. This was a HUGE win! Students love it and kept begging me to play it all week. I think when I’ve run out of cards, I’ll make a new set of questions.

How to play mystery student:

Mystery Student

Student’s answer 4-5  questions on a notecard and turn it in without their name on it. Occasionally as a brain break and as an opportunity to get to know each other, pull out the cards and ask all students to stand up. Call out random facts on the card, when something doesn’t apply to them they should sit down until there’s only one person left standing. Have them introduce themselves/talk about something you identify on the card.

Sample questions:

  • Would you rather play in the snow or lay on the beach?
  • Were you born in the first half of the year or the second half?
  • Do your teachers think you’re quiet or do they think you participate?
  • On the weekend, would you rather stay at home, or go out?
  • Can you do the floss?
  • Would you rather stand all day, or sit all day.
  • Would you rather be paid to play video games, or paid to play sports.
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs.
  • How many siblings do you have?
  • What is one thing people wouldn’t know by looking at you that you don’t mind sharing? *emphasize that they don’t mind it being shared*

Day 3

Why oh why did the weatherman lie to me? This first week was supposed to be in the high 70s. On this day, it was 90 degrees, and my school doesn’t have air conditioning. During the first week of school, it is expected that we practice fire drill routines, especially for 6th graders who are unfamiliar with the school. Not only was it 90 degrees, but my classroom is one of the farthest from the meeting point during drills. Doing this 6 times killed me! Next year, I need to be far more flexible about the day this is completed, and come up with back up plans in case this is an issue again.

Once we got back from the fire drill, students went around the room and completed a scavenger hunt. It asked them to look for things around the room that would help them throughout the school year.

scavenger hunt

 

I set a 10 minute timer, and once it went off I answered any questions they had about the room and addressed my yellow/red card behavior management system.

 

I ran out of time in a few classes to answer all of their questions! There simply isn’t enough time to do a fire drill AND a scavenger hunt AND discuss the room’s resources. Next year, I think I’ll use the scavenger hunt when I’m introducing myself to get them up and out of their seats for some of the period.

 

Day 4

This was mostly a great day! I had a warm-up on the board for “math bowling” using Youcube’s Four 4’s . While very confused at first, my accelerated students loved this and became incredibly competitive with the other classes. My regular math 6 students didn’t really buy into this. I had a handful in each class who were exited to try and make the numbers 1-20, but many just sat there blanky staring. This being the first math they’ve done since summer, it was probably a little too much to ask for them to jump onto the math band wagon so fast and recall all of their operation facts.

After their warm up, we jumped into Sara Vanderwerf’s 100s task. This was a huge hit!! I started off with suggesting students have a different color highlighter from the start, and they must all take turns highlighting. These were my only changes to the rules. I gave them 3 minutes on their first attempt. 2 minutes to discuss a game plan, and 3 more minutes to attempt again. While they did this, I went around and took pictures. I used these pictures to help us decided what group work looks like and sounds like. The next step will be to print out their pictures and hang up the group norms we came up with near them!

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