First I thought I would share a few pictures of some new things in my classroom this year, courtesy of Sarah Carter - if you haven't read her blog yet you really should - she's an amazing, creative teacher.
So I started out the first day, Tuesday, by going over my classroom procedures and expectations, but to kill two birds wth one stone, I created a Nearpod presentation so my students could not only learn about my routines, but so they also could learn how to use an application that I use quite often throughout the school year.
The next day, Wednesday, I had them get familiar with a couple of other activities that I use on a regular basis, QR code scavenger hunts and Socrative. I set up a super easy QR code scavenger hunt where the problems were just multiplication facts, just so they could get the hang of how scavenger hunts work. In the past, students thought they could just go to random problems or just work their way around the room without using the answers as clues as to where to go next. Hopefully this will prevent that mistake the next time we do a QR code scavenger hunt for real. The Socrative activity was another super easy set of questions just so they could see how to get into my "class", what the different types of questions looked like, and to see the feedback they get after they answer the question. (I also do a lot of "Space Races", but I'll save that for another day.)
We finished up with everyone joining my Google Classroom and completing the first assignment which was an "All About Me" Google Slides - I gave everyone their own copy which had 10 slides of questions to help me get to know them. They had a lot of fun with this one and some students got really creative with the images they chose to go along with their answers. My homework this weekend is to read through all of them!
Thursday was probably not their favorite day because I gave them a pre-assessment. I wanted to find out if they have the prerequisite skills that I feel they should have in order to be able to start learning the 8th grade curriculum, such as their basic multiplication facts, integer operations, exponents, one- and two-step equations, and basic graphing skills like plotting points and naming coordinates on a coordinate plane. I haven't finished grading them all yet, but from what I've seen, I have my work cut out for me this year!
When they had completed the pre-assessment, I had them create bookmarks for all the applications we will be using throughout the year to avoid the 5-minutes or so spent searching for the applications each time we use them. I also taught them how to shorten the bookmark so that it's just the icon without words so they can fit more on their bookmark bar, and how to make a folder on their bookmark bar for all the math applications.
I think they probably liked today, Friday, the best. I started out class with a presentation about growth mindsets which consisted of 6 short video clips. I had been telling them all week about how mistakes are OK, mistakes make your brain grow, mistakes show that you are trying and learning, etc. The first video was Jo Boaler explaining the scientific research about this so they didn't just think I was making it all up. Then I had a few cutesy cartoony videos about growth mindset.
Sara VanDerWerf's blog. The kids loved this and were so excited to try to beat their scores and beat the other teams. I loved watching them working so well together. After we finished the three rounds (by the way, only one team figured out the secret that the position of the numbers went around the paper from one quadrant to the next), we discussed "What good group work looks like" (also from Sara VanDerWerf) and I pointed out the things I had seen while they were working. When we got to number 2 ("They don't get distracted. They don't notice what other groups or the teacher is doing."), I told them I could have been doing a little jig in the back of the room and no one would have noticed. I only hope the group work the rest of the year looks as good as today's did.
One final thing I almost forgot to mention was the new Do Now routines I've started this year. I want to help my students develop better number sense, and I found a great list of math routines. The one I tried this week was the "Number of the Day". The first time I gave them the number and asked them to write 3 different expressions, each with a different operation. The next day I stepped up the challenge and asked them for 3 different expressions, each with 2 different operations, and none of the expressions can use the number 1 (I found the first day students were making this way to easy by just adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing by 1 - I wanted them to think of more challenging ways to write the expressions). There were a few students who just couldn't come up with an expression with 2 different operations, so I told them it was OK to just use one operation - we're going to work on this. Then there was one student who made my day today - her expressions showed she was thinking outside the box - she was the only one who included parenthesis, exponents, and negatives! She really impressed me!
All in all, I had a great first week of school! This is my 7th year teaching and it was the first opening day that I didn't have the customary opening day butterflies! I'm really looking forward to working with my new students this year.