Best First Week Ever

Saturday, September 3, 2016
When I first started teaching, I wondered how teachers did their jobs before the Internet.  A few years later, I got a Promethean board installed in my classroom and couldn't imagine how I ever taught without it.  (What's an overhead projector??) In recent years, I feel this way about Teachers Pay Teachers.  We are so fortunate to live in a time where so much technology and resources are right at our fingertips.  Day in and day out, it's not just me teaching my students but also other experienced, enthusiastic educators whose products and ideas I snag from TPT and their blogs.  I left my classroom yesterday afternoon feeling it had truly been my best first week ever!

Of course we started the week with some obligatory getting to know you activities.  We used a fun K-6 time capsule resource from Mrs. Dessert.  The students listed some facts and favorites on the front and wrote letters to themselves on the back.  My teammate even gave me the idea to spice it up with some other pieces of data, like foot size, height, and multiplication fact knowledge.  We put all our findings in big brown envelopes that we'll open during the last week of school.

While we worked on our time capsules, we enjoyed root beer floats after cracking the code on an activity from my all-time favorite teacher-author, Deb Hanson!  This may have been the biggest hit of the week as students solve reading and math puzzlers finally ending up with clues like, "What part of a plant grows under the earth?" and "What is an antonym for sink?" When they realized we were going to enjoy root beer floats next, they literally jumped up and down!

We spent a lot of time on growth mindset activities this week, as I found out last year that AIG students are just as susceptible, if not more, to getting stuck in a fixed mindset.  I see this problem a lot in math, where primary math has always come easy to these students.  The first time they're faced with a math problem they can't do in their head, many of them shut down.  We used resources from one of my favorites, The Teacher Studio, as we also dug right into partner work in math with her Thinker Tasks.

Not only did we get right into math, of course I wanted to dive right into reading (my favorite)!  We began one of my novel units on the third day of school--Sarah, Plain and Tall- get it FREE here like over 10,000 people already have!  We also began one of Deb's units on Genre (I consider myself on a first-name basis with her even though I only met her once at last year's TPT conference). We complemented our genre study with my very first book tasting, which I modeled after this blog post from another one of my TPT favorites, Teaching with a Mountain View. I, like her, snagged a new Book Tasting Resource from Head Over Heels for Teaching in order to pull this off.  Read more about this worthwhile lesson in an upcoming post.

It truly was the best first week ever, and I think my students agreed.  One of my more athletic boys said to me on Friday afternoon, "You know what's weird about me this year?"  I said, "No, what?" and he answered, "I actually want to come to school!"  We all work hard, especially during the first week, but THAT, my friends, is why we do it.

Hope some of these activities might give you some ideas to make it the best first (or second or third) week ever for you and your students as well!