Day 4 Activities and My Year 6 Classroom

Day 4 was our mandatory first administration of end of course exams.

And...that's all I have to say about that.

Now time for the fun stuff....decorations!

I'm starting with my classroom door and then going around in a circle...I mean slice of an octagon.

My sign at the top says Teacher of Awesome and by "awesome" I mean "math"

I clip the menu, calendar, ineligible list, and after school detention list to the door.

My exit ticket tubs and function family poster.

My chevron bulletin board...I think I might make it an Instagram board!

My magnetic borders around the white board and our birthday magnets.

My desk- clutter free!

My Post-It Note To-Do List 

Assignment cover slips for each period

Teacher binders, textbooks, and class period bins.

My mod podge coasters!

Chevron filing cabinet drawers 

Ugly metal cabinets covered in wrapping paper.

Polka dot foam magnets, chevron clip boards and clock, and fringe!

All together now!



Day 3 Activities

Today the board asked students to choose a binder, then use a dry erase marker to number their desk 1-10.

I came around with Washi tape and Sharpies to label their binders. Last year I used white mailing labels and they were terrible to peel off. Washi tape is much better and so much prettier!

Next we moved into Mental Math Monday. Next week we will have a paper template but for this week they just wrote on the desk. This is still one of my all time favorite routines.

Students reading directions is one of my soapboxes. I don't read or repeat directions or answer questions that are easily answered in the directions. So my main activity started with them reading.

Our main activity for the day was Saving Sam.

This is the setup. Which is 100% intriguing to students. I didn't answer any questions about it until we started. Drove them nuts.

Here are the directions.

Some of the things I was looking for throughout the activity were: students who came up with creative solutions, students who did not give up easily, students who could take direction from their partner, students who could give direction, students who could work together, students who could FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

I was pretty happy with the results but the packet could have been shortened or avoided all together. Although I loved watching students write their steps and draw illustrations. To me, this enforced the norms of showing your work, reflecting, and overcoming obstacles.

Day 2 Activities

Students already know where they sit so today the screen asks them to get a sharpie and a foam magnet.

The foam shapes came from Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree. I cut magnetic tape into tiny pieces and stuck it on the back.

I put the stuff in a chair in front of a white board. I drew an arrow toward it. It was in the front of the room. And students who haven't had me before really struggled in finding the supplies. ?????

They wrote their name and birthday on the front and their favorite candy on the back. Then they had to put them in order by month on the board. And each hour, our collection grew.

 I look at it and think, What kind of data do we have? What can we do with this?

While they were writing, I played this first day back video. I thought it was hilarious. They were slightly amused. I just love Emmanuel Hudson videos in general but I'm sure it's an acquired taste.

Next up was my awesome powerpoint. I introduced it by saying that they don't know me that well and I don't know them, so I will start with 28 reasons why I'm awesome and then they get to tell me why they're awesome.

My first hour was SO. AWKWARD. I don't know them and they literally just stared at me. I cracked jokes. Nothing. Funny stories. Nothing. Embarrassing moments. Nothing. I felt like my idea was the dumbest idea ever.

But after doing it five more times, I loved it! It was really a conversation, students commented and had a lot of questions and smiles. I'm from here and when I started teaching, my two sisters were in high school with me so I take it for granted what students know about me. I'm used to them knowing everything about me but now that's it been six years, some of them don't know me at all. I thought it would be lame with my trig class because they've had me for years and know me really well. But...we talked and told stories so much that we ran out of time.

After the powerpoint I gave them a pop quiz. On me!

My purpose was twofold. 1, to enforce another norm of paying attention and being observant. 2, to connect with students on a more personal level right from the beginning. I really really really think that this was a great investment in my students for the rest of the year. This took about 30-35 minutes depending on how much the students interact. And speaking of interacting, I did put some slides that had blanks and asked students to fill in the blank.

Now comes the part where they tell me about themselves. I had a different idea for this but I was up until 2 AM making the powerpoint and I even spelled my own name wrong in the quiz so um...maybe next year?

I went with the Dan Meyer classic, Who I Am, which I've done every year of my career.

If I had any time left, I asked them what would make this year a good experience for them, without naming any past teachers.

Here's what I heard every hour. "Can you actually explain things to us before giving us a worksheet?" "Can you explain things more than once?"  One girl said she needed both to see it worked out and hear it explained. I love that she made that observation about herself.

These were great activities to do on a Friday to end the first 'week' of school. 

Thanks to @jdmahlstedt for the original idea of telling students why you're awesome!


First Day of School Activities

Thursday was our first day of school. We do this weird thing where students are split up into grades and rotate around the school to hear teachers talk about expectations- dress code, behaviors, etc and pass out schedules and handbooks and such. So we do this 1st-3rd hour and then students go to their regular classes for 4th-7th hour. It's a 2:15 day so we skip 8th hour.

Since I only had half of my classes, I couldn't do all the fun things I wanted to do with everyone so I picked two alternative activities.

When students came into the room, each group of desks had a clipboard with the names of the four people who should sit there. I had a slide up on the screen that asked them to find their name and then find a seat.

At each seat was an index card. Welcome to the Cup Challenge.

#1 asked that student to get supplies: a stack of cups, a rubber band tool, and an envelope (it's to the right in the picture).

#2 person had to open the envelope and read the directions.

#3 person had to start the activity by setting up the cups in the "starting" position.

Then comes the fun. Students have to pull the strings tied to the rubber band so that it will stretch big enough to go over the cup. Then they have to maneuver carefully so that they don't knock the cups over. When they have to flip the cups, they have to trade strings or figure out some way to do it.

Once they achieved the pyramid, they had to return the cups to the starting position, also with the tool. Then I gave them four more cups. Two were the same size and two were smaller. Now they had to make a pyramid with 4 on the bottom, 3, 2, 1. 

The truth is that I just used the cups I had. But the smaller cups added an extra challenge. The only way to make it work is if the 2 small cups are the two cups before the last one is placed on top. A lot of students didn't realize this until they got to the top and then had to adjust.

After that, I had them unstack the whole pyramid and flip it over. 

I enforced the no hands policy, even if they knocked the cup in the floor. The whole team had to use the tool on the floor to pick up. They started to get creative and use their forearms and and feet but had to use the tool to place the cups in the pyramids.

#4 student had to put all the supplies back neatly.

The best part was the discussion. I asked them what was the point of the activity and what it had to do with math. Most of the responses were team work, strategy, keep trying, not giving up, etc.

This took about 25 minutes.

Next I asked them to pair up. I thought it was interesting that most students didn't move and chose to work with the people in their original group. I think that the first activity was it's own kind of icebreaker because no one was perfect at it, they laughed, they got frustrated, they kept at it. That vibe fed into the next activity and took away the awkwardness of working with people you may not have chosen for yourself.

This activity is called Chain Gang and is more suited for elementary I guess but I enjoyed it. The students had one piece of construction paper scissors, and tape to make the longest paper chain possible. They got pretty competitive and were whispering and hiding their chains so others couldn't see the length. It worked out every class period that they had only about 10 minutes to work. They had to split up the work to get done in enough time. Then we laid them out to find the longest....

Even I as amazed at how different the lengths were when they all started with one sheet of paper. Again we discussed the point of the activity and what was the best strategy to make the longest length.

The one word that no one mentioned was communication. Why does that seem to always be lacking?

Anyway, these two activities took up the 47 minute class period easily and all students were engaged. I was walking around almost bursting inside....why can't my math class look like this every day? I've GOT to do more activities so math doesn't seem so boring.

These activities also set up some class norms without putting them into writing...in this class we work all class period, we talk, we work together, we think we try different methods, we compare our results, we discuss, we persevere, we clean up after ourselves, and we can still have a good time.

And sometimes we make pretties.


Made 4 Math: INB Carts and Syllabus

I'm going INB crazy in all four of my preps this year! So to stay organized and keep things running smoothly, I've set up my groups of four desks with their own INB cart.

I printed out labels for each drawer and each cart has a tape dispenser and a baby trash can on top. The cart has calculators, dry erase markers, erasers, and white boards, scissors, colored paper, glue sticks, tape, glue sponge, post-it flags, highlighters, markers, colored pencils, rulers, measuring tapes, compass, protractors, notebook paper, index cards, baby staplers, and geomirrors. In that order.

Next is my syllabus and INB information sheet that I heavily borrowed from Sarah Rubin's post. This will be printed front to back and folded with the INB part facing out so students can tape it in their INB. Then on the RHP, they will reflect on it using Sarah's 'high-five' idea. I should probably mention that I am attempting a "Left Hand Learning" and "Right Hand Reflecting" format.

Here are the pictures so you can see my pretty fonts:

And here is the file so you can edit it yourself. I used a ton of fonts that I'm not going to list here. When you click in the text box, the name of the font shows up. Then google it and download it. Takes like 45 seconds. Or just change them to your favorite fonts. I hate even posting the file because it looks so jankety. Just go back and look at my pretty pictures. =)

And these are my baskets for finished quizzes and tests. I love this because I have so many who don't finish and I get random piles over my desk. Bazinga!

And the file.