Saturday, August 6, 2016

First Day of School Fun

The first week of school has already gone by and it was an awesome start to this school year! It is always difficult to get back in the swing of things after the summer break, but I feel that I was ready to go back.  The one week of PD before the school year begins, which our district requires, was surely beneficial, as it got me used to getting up early and getting ready for work again.

My school, an early college high school, operates on an A/B/C-block schedule, which means that students attend 4 classes on Monday/Wednesday (90-minute periods), 4 other classes on Tuesday/Thursday (90-minute periods), and all 8 classes on Fridays (45-minute periods).  For this reason, I saw my seven classes three times this week. 

I have four sections of Algebra 1 and three sections of Geometry this school year.  The activities for both subjects were pretty much the same this week, as we got ready for the new school year.  On the first day, I had them go through basic first-day of school procedures and a short math activity.  Here is a recap of the day's activities:

Ice-Breaker Activity
I set up student desks in groups of four.  I like to call groups "Teams" so that I can remind students that they are "working as a team."  I placed a sticky note on the corner of each desk to temporarily number them from 1 to 24.  I don't assign teams until I have had a chance to get to know them and their behaviors a little bit.  Thus, for the first week, I used this seating challenge. (Thank you, Mrs. Dooms!)

The seating challenge worked out great! Students started talking to one another right away, and they were forced to find a way to solve the problem of "Where do I sit?"  Plus, I quickly found out who the natural leaders are!  Every period, there was at least one student who took the initiative and quickly thought a way to get everyone to help solve the problem.  It was interesting and very fun to watch!

Teacher and Student Introductions
Once they were all seated, and while I submitted attendance, I had students introduce themselves to their teammates.  Then, I introduced my self via the "Quiz: Mrs. Bonilla, by the number." (Definitely not my original idea, I took this idea from someone, I just don't remember from who or where?!) The students took the quiz on paper. I then showed them the answers using pictures on a power point presentation.  I think they really enjoyed watching the presentation of answers with pictures!  The one they liked the most, I think, was the my selfie with Chewbacca:

After that, they had to write about themselves in five sentences, using numbers as well.  This allowed me to find out more about them! It worked out great!  This is the editable file I created for the activity.

"Housekeeping" Procedures 
I really didn't want to spend too much time going over the syllabus, class procedures, etc. I handed out the sheets with the information and barely touched on a few things.  I handed them the syllabus and explained that it was something they and their parents needed to be read and understood it, and it was to be done for homework.  I handed them a sheet with a shopping list of supplies as well.  This is my syllabus:

"Teamwork" Discussion 

Because I have them sitting in groups from Day 1, I made sure I explained the expectations for working in teams.  This is what I used for the discussion:

I also taped copies of the Teamwork Expectations on the team bins that are at each team's station because teenagers need all the reminders we can give them! 

"Mathy" Activity
I used the second half of the period to have the kids do something math-related.

In Geometry, students used task cards to review solving linear equations.  I gave each team a task card, which they had to solve as a team.  A designated student from the team brought the card and his/her paper with work shown for that problem to me.  If the solution was correct, I gave them a new card to take back to the team.  If the solution was incorrect, we looked for the mistake, identified it, and the he/she took the card and the explanation back to the team.  The team then had to correct their work together and bring their corrected solution to me in exchange for a new card.
There were 12 task cards total, but I stressed that speed was not as important as it was for them to work together to remember how to solve linear equations! 

In Algebra 1, students used a card sort to learn that real numbers can be grouped into different sets of numbers.  I gave each team a plastic baggie with vocabulary cards, definition cards, and number cards.  They started by working as a team to pair a "vocabulary word" card with its matching "definition card."  I reminded them to use context clues and root words to figure out which definition matched each vocab word. 

After a few minutes, I presented the correct definitions for each vocab word, as well as a brief explanation with examples.  Students recorded it in their notes sheet.
After the discussion, I gave them a graphic organizer and gave them a few examples of how to figure out where to place different numbers. 
Then, they took the number cards out of their baggie and worked with their team to figure out where to correctly place each of the numbers on the cards. 

When teams finished placing the numbers in their graphing organizer, we discussed as a class.

We closed up the day by discussing end-of-class procedures: cleaning up after themselves, returning materials to the team bins, checking that all teammates are ready to go, and making sure they have all their belongings. 

Here are the files of the Numbers Systems Activity.

Whew!!! We did a lot on the first day of school! It was a great start to what already feels like an excellent and successful school year!

How was your first day of school? :)