Week One, Day Five

(I really wanted to put a link to every person mentioned in this post because that would be cool but that would take so much time, which is not cool. The end)

Friday! Week One accomplished!

Today was another good day. It's going to be hard to adjust to a regular schedule after having a 2:15 schedule all week. But, now all my classes will be 50 minutes instead of some 50, some 30.

In my 50 minute classes I started by asking students to name 3 uses for a paperclip (idea credited to @paulbogush) other than holding papers together. This stumped the majority of them for awhile but eventually they started to think of ideas (or copy off of others). Answers were closing a bag of chips, picking a lock, stabbing someone, a toy sword, cleaning under your fingernails, piercing your lip, earrings, bracelet, necklace, belt, a popper thing to shoot at people, and to launch rubber bands.

After testing their creativity, I transitioned into the creative activity. Students had to make a thank you card for a teacher. It could also be to a janitor, cafeteria lady, secretary, teacher's aide, or coach. They could deliver it themselves or I would put in their mailboxes. For the most part, it turned out really well. Some kids couldn't think of anyone or anything to say and I had two students who just wouldn't do it. I didn't take a grade so what could I do? Not sure how to deal with that.

But others went right to work and even wrote paragraphs. And I did get a few cards too. =) I delivered them on my plan period and allowed some of the kids to deliver at the end of class. I had at least 3 teachers come and tell me thank you and that they appreciated the cards. It even made one teacher's heart smile (I love that phrase).

This was my personal favorite:

It reads: "Thank you for making this class as fun as you already have at the beginning of the year. I'm looking forward to the rest of this year."

This from a 16 year old freshman.

In addition, I had my students make "Help Me" signs. This went over so well. So pleased. Students had to create a sign that had some sort of confused face, question mark, hand raised, help wanted, or questioning, thing on it. The rationale behind it is that if I am teaching, a student can just throw their sign up, letting me know they aren't understanding. I hope to prevent anyone from feeling embarrassed or stupid for not understanding right away. Also, I think it will be really fun! The students got really creative with this. Everything from drawing their own, to cartoons, rappers, dirt bike riders, etc.

Let me show you.

Clockwise from top left: Lil Wayne looking puzzled, The Thinker pondering, Tennessee Volunteers basketball player Josh Tabb, both raising a hand up, and 2009 dirt bike champion James Stewart.

Clockwise from top: Handmade, graffiti skull asking 'What?', classic Wile E. Coyote help sign, and a handmade graffiti style 'Help Me' (or 'Help Ice' as some students said).

Clockwise from top left: Handmade with double sticks, Huey from The Boondocks asking for Hizzelp, a question mark made out of fireworks, and of course Stewie from Family Guy is frustrated and wants help.

Clockwise from top: rapper T.I. with a hand up, Gucci Mane making the 'ok' sign, Chris Brown looking troubled, and who else but Barney.

Don't you love it? It was a lot of fun.

The thank you cards were mainly to help promote a positive atmosphere between teachers and students as well as it was fun and needed to encourage teachers.

The help sign was my own brain child to help promote a positive atmosphere between the class as a whole. I hope that this combined with the earlier index-card-asking-questions-activity will help students realize that they can ask questions and receive help without feeling stupid or embarrassed.


  1. Wow, I love that "help me sign" idea, and I'm impressed your students were willing to share their creativity with you!

  2. Awesome idea for the help me signs. I attended a session yesterday with motivational speaker Debbie Silver and she said something I think is true. She said older teachers pick on younger teachers when they realize these new teachers are doing something right, and therefore feel that their way of teaching is threatened. It's a sad fact, but the tattling may be a sign that you're doing something very well.

  3. I am disappointed in your colleague. There is no reason that the person who turned you in shouldn't have come to you first and mention they thought your shorts were inappropriate. To take it to administration first is a lack of professionalism, IMHO.

    Otherwise, I'm glad the week went well and your activities looked great!

  4. Thanks Alison!

    Thanks for your comment. It's something I did think about, considering I'm always criticized about clothing or other personal circumstances rather than my professionalism, teaching skills, or relationships with students. Although I didn't become a teacher to make new friends, it's sad that that's the accepted mentality. If I was a new teacher to this school, I would feel totally rejected and hurt, in only the first week.

    Thanks for the compliment. As far as my minor setback, another lesson learned on professionalism and what not to do.


  5. Hi there! I'm really impressed with the paperclip idea. Such a simple and open-ended task. love it! I'm also starting fresh in two weeks when I start at a new school teaching year 6. Although teaching for 5 years already at my previous school, I am more nervous and anxious than I care to admit!

    really enjoyed reading this post and looking forward to following you on this very exciting year of yours! Keep your head held high!

    Chris / @chrisbest1980

  6. Let us know how the signs work! In my class, they wink if they want another example. Nobody can see it but me and, even better, I can do another example even if nobody winks and they never know.

  7. Ms. Maddy,
    That's a great idea! Maybe I will incorporate that along with the signs.

  8. I am definitely trying out the help me cards. A colleague suggested using red/green cards for don't got it/got it participation, but the cards you mention are much more personalized. Thanks for sharing the photos as well...

  9. Rich,
    Another idea is a thumbs up, thumbs sideways, or thumbs down. Also, read the above comment about winking.

    Let us know which idea you try.