Monday, August 25, 2014

Daily Do Now


I have tried "Do Nows" or "Bell Ringers" several different ways. Problem of the day, math journals, little booklets of review. Not a fan of any of these. Only a few kids did them and the rest just copied me or their neighbor.

Then came a post by Sarah at Math = Love! I stored it in the back of my mind for next year knowing immediately it was perfect. Things tend to get forgotten there! Especially with end of the year and summer to look forward to! So I was so excited when she reminded me with this one! Ahhhhh! THEMED Do Nows! Who doesn't love a good theme?! I immediately got my real back to school to do list out and wrote it down! I tweaked a little and it has been amazing so far. They do everything except Monday with their group. I think more math has happened doing this in 3 weeks than it ever did in the 4 years before combined! The first week I wouldn't tell them what the next day was but I made a big deal about each day being a theme. By Thursday, every class was trying to guess what the day's theme was! They love it! I love that they love it! After today, I will forever do One Good Thing Monday!


Last year, we changed from 75 minute blocks to 50. I went from teaching 120 kids to having 180 come through. I felt like I was so rushed to get through everything I didn't get to know the kids like I usually do. And there were so many of them! 

Monday's One Good Thing has been amazing these last couple of weeks. I am getting to know them and their world outside of school. They are sharing things that I would never have known without One Good Thing. But today ya'll....C126 became a family! When you take 5 minutes to listen, this is what they share.

"My grandma went to rest in peace this weekend."

"I wrote a letter to my dad in prison."

"I went to the movies for the first time."

"I visited my grandmother and brother's 
grave."

"I cleaned the whole house because my mom worked all weekend."

"I won my football game Saturday."

Then there was one who said he couldn't think of anything. I told him he could use something from last week. So he put "winning the marshmallow challenge!" He has my heart!


Go get Sarah's version, take mine, but you for real need to do this! You will get to know your kids so much better! And your classroom will be a happier place because of it!
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Days of School


The first week is in the books! We did a lot getting our ISNs set up and taking surveys to learn about ourselves. I have done the personality color, multiple intelligences, and learning style surveys for the last couple of years (via Everybody Is a Genius, of course!) We use those to talk about how to help ourselves not only learn and study but to get along with others in our groups. The kids really get into it once they know their color!

I do lots of team building activities the first week. It is a great way to ease them back from summer and get them working together before we do math. It also gives me a chance to start building relationships with them. Teaching at an inner city school is mostly about classroom management and I know for me, these relationships are the key to the trust that has to be felt in my room. 

For the first week, I have a different way for them to sit written on the board each day: ABC order first name, hair length, height, birthday, shoe size. This gives me lots of insight! Who the leaders are, who is just going to sit back and let someone tell them where to sit, who is going to not say anything and mess up the order when they are still standing at the end! It also helps see the dynamics before I make the seating chart. 

I have done the usuals that are all over Pinterest: the marshmallow challenge, building an index card tower that holds a bear, but this year I needed something different. I found this activity on a science teacher's blog and loved it because my oldest real kid is Sam and I knew I would be able to play that up. 


To set the stage...Sam is riding along in his bay boat when a big wave comes and turns the boat over. His life preserver is under the boat and he needs it around his waist to save him! 


The groups of 4 could only use the paper clips to touch anything. They had to first get the life preserver from under the boat without Sam falling in the water. 


Next, they had to figure out a way to get the life preserver around Sam's waist. I had to make a big deal about them not being able to just stick the paper clip in him! 


They actually used a lot of different strategies and only one group all day couldn't do it. 
They were excited when they figured it out and it was a great way to start the year working together! 


So that is my first week! No math, just a lot of getting to know each other and how to play together nicely!

I hope your first week and every day after is amazing! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Classroom...while it is still shiny!


Summer came and went so fast it doesn't feel right that today was our first day of school! It happened though! I had 150 kids come through my classroom today to prove it! I thought I would share some of the places in my room {even though it makes me nervous for you to see} that make me happy!

Welcome to C126!

Just like Notre Dame we do math like a champion! I love that kids hit this on their way in! 


The "blue table" is where it begins and ends! It's by the door. Anything we need for the day, tape-scissors-markers, gets laid out here and returned at the end of class.  The blue table is the catch all. I wish I had middle schoolers that could handle cute supply baskets at each table...but I do not! 


Calculators are stored in these shoe cubbies along with a mechanical pencil. I have a noisy classroom and I love it! I do not love listening to the pencil sharpener! The mechanical pencils save my sanity! The cubbies and calculators are numbered and they just grab their number on the way in. 

I would love to share the numbers with you!


Binders are housed by class in the cubbies my awesome hubs made for me. We can't paint the walls so it was a way to add some color. In past years, the binders held math journals, loose papers, and their ISN. This year I am going to give SBG a try and plan to use them as their portfolio. 


I have talked about these fabulous mathematical practices posters from Everybody is a Genius before here


The MP posters along with these awesome problem solving strategies posters from Math = Love give us lots to talk about when we are speaking math!


One last thing! If you look up you will see the signs hanging above each group table. Each one has a different big company in our area. Many kids know someone that works at these places. I use them to bring in the real world and to make my kids aware of the opportunities that are outside of our little middle school world! When I call on a group, I use their company name. I love that during friendly competitions they will want to fire someone from the losing company or try to hire a "smart" kid away from another! 


So this is where I will be for the next 184 school days! I didn't mean for this to be a  three hour tour! I have so enjoyed looking at all of your rooms, I wanted to join the fun! 

Happy back to school!