Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gearing up for a New School Year

I am getting excited about planning for the new school year. I have had my baby (she's 10 days old and absolutely perfect!), and now I'm ready to get back to work. The way my maternity leave is going to work, I am taking off just six weeks from my daughter's DOB. This means that I am missing most of teacher work week, but I'll still be there for the first day of school. I am thankful about not losing any time with my "work kids" because this will help us build relationships and momentum. This also means that I am looking to take advantage of my evenings through August when both kids happen to be sleeping at the same time (like right now!).

The first thing that I want to plan out is week one. I love some of the things that I did last year, so I want to start getting those things organized and edited.  Here's one of the things I did--

Since one of the main areas of English class is writing, I decided to do a writing activity to begin the year and get to know my students. This activity had multiple purposes: to show me their writing skills, to help me learn their names, to help them value each other and be culturally sensitive to unique names, and to teach them a little bit about me. I printed a front/back worksheet for a name tag. This worksheet also doubled as a name tag tent. When it was folded, there was a front and a back of the name tag tent. The front had a spot for the student to write his or her name and draw three visual representations of his or her interests. The back (the part facing the student), allowed for students to write three things about themselves, two questions about the class, and one academic goal or concern.

The back of the worksheet was a space to write about their names.

 On day one, they did the name tag part of the worksheet (front and back of the name tag tent). Then I read them a children’s book about a student who had a unique name and felt it made it difficult to fit in (Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes).

 We used this to discuss the need to value one another. On day two, I modeled for students by writing my own “name” story. This helped them get to know me a little bit better. Then students wrote about their names. They got to choose to write about one of three things: 1) share why your parents picked your name 2) share history about your name or what it means or 3) write a fictional tale inspired by your name (like Chrysanthemum). This name tag tent activity, both the day one and day two parts, helped me to get to know student interests, writing capabilities, and cultural backgrounds. It opened up dialogue between students and with me and helped to build a positive class culture from the very beginning of the year.

Here's the PPT that I used on day one to introduce this to students.