Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 1! Welcome Back Students!

Holy cow am I beat!  I am so exhausted!! Mostly because I have started getting up at 4:30 am to workout.  I really have to push through and stick with this routine, I am consistently gaining 10-15 pounds every year and it needs to stop!

So today was great, the kids are really awesome, both 7th and 8th grade I just love them!  The class periods go FAST!  I am so worried about implementing the workshop model!!  I will do it though!!!  :)

Today we just did a kind of get to know the class/teacher day.  I went with the whole I wonder, I notice? idea and the kids liked it a lot.  It got them involved and I was able to teach some procedures just by giving them answers to what they noticed and wondered!   One of them was my SWAG sign.

I started by asking them if they remembered SLANT (Sit up, lean forward, ask questions, nod, track speaker)  It is a strategy from Teach Like a Champion, that the staff had to read a few years ago.  It was one of those things we were told to implement, but it never "stuck"  I could never get into the practice or routine of saying "I need to see you SLANT!" it always made me think I was asking them to slump over!  So as soon as I mentioned it they groaned.  I explained how even I didn't like it, but that I liked the idea behind it.  That it is just a gentle reminder of how you should be sitting in class, and to focus.  Then I said that what I could get into the habit of saying was "Show me your SWAG" They loved it!  It was great when one or two boys didn't sit up right away and I was able to jokingly say "oh man, so and so doesn't have any SWAG!" They would immediately sit right up!

The other came from the activity of noticing and wondering.  I had them first spend 3 minutes looking around and thinking independently.  When it was time to call them back I told them that in order to get their attention when it was time to regroup I would say "Class" and they would respond "Yes" and be silent.  I've tried class, yes in the past and I couldn't get it to stick because of my classroom neighbor. We have kind of thin walls and he would always yell "Hands Up!" which was his way of quieting and getting the attention.  Well by the second week I was doing the same thing.  Its ok, the kids are supposed to put their hands up and be quiet, but you know some don't put their hands etc and it just kind of gets old.  They loved the Class, Yes and really liked when I changed up the way we said it.  My 8th graders bought right into it and worked hard at getting it right.  My 7th graders also bought into it but were having a little difficulty getting it down as well as the 8th grade so I introduced the Scoreboard! (These are both Whole Brain teaching strategies if you want to look them up)  So now my two 7th grade classes will be battling each other in the scoreboard game!  Never planned on that one but it worked so well!  Not sure what the prize will be, but they didn't seem to care, I'll probably do Battle of the Homeroom points for like some crazy amount like 1000.

Like I said it went fast, I am not really used to these short classes (48 minutes each compared to the 75 I had last year)
Tomorrow I plan on passing out syllabus and do procedure and routines.  I am going to have them start working on community building as well and start off with the Post-it poster activity that I got from Sherrie at

Oh and the other cool thing that I did was wrote a Vision Statement for my classroom!!  Here is our Vision Statement:
We will persevere in problem solving.  We will not fear mistakes but embrace them as opportunities for learning.  We shall achieve the goal of becoming mathematical thinkers.

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