This year I’m changing a lot of my techniques, and I’m working even harder to get to know my kids. Building rapport is something I’m pretty good at (IMHO), but this year I want to take it a step further. I want to really build a community. I’ve had visits from a lot of last year’s kids; this has not only made me realize how much I am going to miss them this year, but has also motivated me to build those same relationships with my current kiddos.
I thought this weekend I’d review what I’ve done for the first few days of school and layout some plans I have for the year.
The First Few Days
- As always, I’m focusing on reading, writing, speaking, and thinking. Every. Day. Students have already seen these four pillars being addressed in my class since day one. And their parents knew I was focused on them because of this welcome letter I sent to them before school started.
- Students have been assigned “home-base groups”. For the first time ever, I have students seated in groups of my choosing from day one. I grouped them by their astrological sign, based on some advice from a teacher at another school. She swears by this method!
- It’s been really fun watching the groups get to know each other, and to see which groups are quiet, and which won’t hush up. I’m excited to see how this plays out throughout the year.
- Days one and two involved completing Author Sketches based on ideas from Moving Writers, and writing claim sentences as advised by the awesome Dave Stuart Jr.
- I am striving to use mentor texts this year, so using the author sketches as a way to introduce this idea was a neat beginning. I think I will do it again next year, but I will make some changes. By then I’ll have a year of using mentor texts to start from, so I think I’ll be better off.
- I also want to incorporate more argument into, well basically everything. So starting with claim sentences about ourselves (based on the author sketches) lead perfectly into writing claim sentences the following week. We will continue to refer back to those throughout the year because they seemed to catch on right away.
- I introduced AoWs on the third day of school. We started with this article about Failure because I wanted to start right away to let kids know that I think it’s okay to fail. We will take risks in my classroom and we can’t be afraid to fail.
- To introduce students to the idea of backing up their claims, my colleague came up with the idea of giving kids different cereal nutrition labels and then having them sort them from healthiest to least healthy. I had students do that in a group. They came up with the criteria that was important to them and then ranked their cereals. They had to write a claim sentence and explain what evidence they had to back up their claim.
- Next year I’ll be a bit more intentional and prepared for this so that the ideas care over a bit more.
All in all, I’m happy with what we’ve done so far this year.
I’m feeling prepared and productive so far this year, so if that continues then I think it’s going to be a great year!
I hope you have a fantastic year as well!