Saturday, August 17, 2013

First Day of School 2013

I'd say the first day of school was a success.  I had a great day with my new class!  I was so impressed with their behavior--I've never had a group of students SO well-behaved on the first day.  Can you believe I didn't even introduce my behavior management plan?!  I'm going to do that Monday.  I just didn't have to mention it yesterday! 

Oh yes, yesterday.  We did something a little different this year.  Our first day of school was on Friday.  I LOVED this idea!  I am always so exhausted after the first day of school, so it was nice to have a weekend to recuperate.  The first day is mostly about procedures anyway, so I feel that the Friday-start-day is wonderful. 

For the first week and a half, I really hit hard on procedures.  Like I said in my last post, I follow the suggestions in Harry Wong's book, The First Days of School, to a tee.  I not only explain procedures to my students, but I have them rehearse the procedures as well.  I think this was a new concept for some of my kiddos.  A few of them commented that they had never "practiced" procedures before; teachers in the past have just told them what to do.  For example, I explained how I want my students to walk down the hall (stay on the right side; hands by your side; straight line; no talking) and then I said, "Okay, let's rehearse."  We lined up and actually practiced walking down the hallway like I had explained.  When they followed the procedure correctly, I praised them and said, "Yes!  Now that's how I expect you to walk down the hallway at all times."  If a child did not follow the procedure correctly, I'd simply remind them of what I expected.  We did this for everything that I introduced: what to do when you come into the classroom, how to hand papers in, what to do if the teacher steps out of the room, how the teacher will quiet the class, etc.  To read more about my procedures, CLICK HERE.

When I shared with the class that I was going to teach them how to properly wash their hands, they all looked at me like I was crazy!  I explained how proper hand washing is important and then we began a little experiment.  (I think I got this idea from Pinterest.)  I passed around a piece of bread and had everyone touch it with their dirty hands.  We put it in a Ziploc bag and labeled it.  Then I had the students use Germ-X and passed around another slice of bread.  Again, we placed it in a labeled bag.  Finally, we went into the kitchen and I showed them how to wash their hands.  Many of them didn't realize that you're not supposed to touch the faucet with your clean hands after you wash them.  You should dry your hands completely and then turn off the faucet with a paper towel.  They also didn't know to wash your wrists and under your nails.  Once everyone's hands were clean, we passed around one last slice of bread and placed it in a labeled bag:
My students guessed what would happen to the bread.  We will have to wait a few days and see...

To break up the monotony of learning procedures, I led the students in a couple of Brain Breaks.  I have an entire Brain Break notebook that I put together and I also use videos, but on the first day I simply shared some Silly Songs with them.  I lead the Silly Songs myself even though I can't carry a tune in a bucket.  These kids better get used to me singing because I do it all the time! 

Eventually, I was able to introduce our math unit.  Our first chapter is on whole numbers up to one million.  I wanted to get an idea of the students' number sense, so I gave everyone a "secret number" written on a folded index card and told them not to show their number to anyone.  Some of the numbers were negative and then I had others listed all the way up to billions.  I rigged up a "number line" at the front of the room using yarn and two chairs and had the students come up three at a time and place their number in the correct spot:
The students did a great job and we had a good discussion about negative numbers and comparing/ordering numbers.
This year, I am assigning an "All About Me" Math Poster as a way for the students to introduce themselves.  I usually do an "All About Me" bag and they bring in items to represent what they like to do, etc.  Here's my model for the math poster:
Aside from math, I was able to teach a geography lesson on map projections.  I use an orange to demonstrate how it is impossible to take something round and flatten it out without there being any distortions.  To read more about this activity, click here.
The students had a great time with this!
To wrap up the day, I ended with a Hershey Kiss game.  I got this from my principal during my first year of teaching.  Have the students begin in a seated position and then have them stand up or sit down if they can relate to a statement you make.  For example, "Stand up if you are an FSU fan," "Sit down if you are an only child," etc.  The last statement should be something like, "Stand up/sit down if you received a kiss this morning."  Most 5th graders will NOT want to admit this, so I say, "Aw!  Everyone should get a kiss on the first day of school!" and pull out a bag of Hershey's Kisses. 
I think all my students left happy on the first day.  :)

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