Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A New Trick From An Old Dog

For starters, I know I am not very old, but I could not think of a better title. This was the first one that came to mind, so I stuck with it...

Our first day of school was today. A day to meet the new students, give them your syllabus, assign seats, and give them your list of rules. Well, this year, I decided to try something different. When the students entered my classroom this year, we moved right into a group activity that I found on Open Middle. If you are a math teacher and have not checked out their site, I highly recommend it. They picked their group and dove right in. I had 6th, 7th, and 8th graders talking about math while reminding each other how to handle the Order of Operations. I spent the time circulating, listening to their conversation, answering questions, and wondering why I had not started any of my 19 other First Days of School this way.

I was still able to discuss my expectations with them, but that was after watching them work in groups for almost 30 minutes. We were able to discuss what we did behavior-wise without referencing them as "rules". We simply discussed them as common sense. I discussed with them that no one ran around the room, but I did not tell them that Rule #1 was "No running". We were able to have group discussions in appropriate volume voices without being read that Rule #2 was "Use indoor voices". I do not know why I waited so long to take this approach!

By taking a chance starting my year with something new, I believe I gave my students a great first day of math in my room. We were able to discuss math sitting in groups while working on grade appropriate tasks that challenged the students. In addition, I was able to get a feel of where the students are after returning from summer break by listening to their questions to each other and how they responded.

What a great first day. This "Old Dog" will definitely file this new trick away for future years. Many thanks to my PLN for pushing me to do this!

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