Sunday, August 24, 2014

What a Week... A Glimpse of My First Week of School

This has been a crazy and exhausting first week of school with the students. We started back with the staff on Monday, August 11, and we started back on Monday, August 18 with the students.

Our district has used the option of using only 175 days of school for the students and using the rest of the contracted school days for professional development throughout the year. This affects our pacing tremendously and therefore our students started actual lessons on day two.

8th Grade Math (Day 1)
My first three periods are 8th Grade Common Core Math.  On the first day I did a simple following directions activity. It is important for me to know which students are capable of reading and following directions.  On the first day as the students came to class they were greeted at the door and given a sticky note.  The directions were on Promethean Screen.

My 3rd period was the only class that was not only able to complete the writing prompt correctly, but they were the only class that actually got up and put the sticky notes on the poster. :o)  I had to point to the last part of the directions to give them a hint in 1st and 2nd period.

I spent only about 20 minutes going over my main expectations and procedures.  I knew that I couldn't talk for too long.  I am very OCD about structure, and I do a lot of procedures.  There is pretty much a procedure for everything.  LOL... I knew that there is way too much to tell them and I could not do it all at once, and throughout the rest of the week I would continue to show new procedures.

I previously posted about A Letter To My Students. After my going over my expectations. I talked to the students about the "Struggle" they will endure and passed out my letter.  I had the students read it to themselves.  Then I had the students use my letter as motivation and had them write a letter to themselves about this year in 8th Grade Math. I collected their letters and had them put the Letter From Me in their Interactive Math Notebooks.  I wanted it to be the first page they see all year.  I am hoping it will continue to motivate them.

Day 2 (Classroom Procedures)
We started our 1st lesson on day two.  On day two I also started procedures for when they enter class. I previously posted about My Classroom Structure and Team Roles.  When the students come into class they look at the board to see if they are the Team Resource Monitor for the day.  If they are the Resource Monitor then they will get the materials listed on the board for the team.  The rest of the students will turn in their homework and then go to their seat and get ready for class.

I am so excited because by day three all of my classes had this procedure down.  By the time the bell rang each day all of the students were in their desks and ready to learn. They had their homework turned in and all of the teams had the supplies they needed for the day's lesson.  I love that I can start class right away and no time is wasted getting materials.  This is one of my most important procedures. :o)

Homework Conundrum
When I taught Honors Algebra and Geometry homework wasn't really a problem.  Majority of the students turned in their homework regularly.  But I have always struggled getting my Math 8 students to do their homework. You know it is bad when you get excited when someone actually turns in their homework. Almost like they gave you a present.  LOL.  This was also a problem because the 0/25 for homework averaged in with their grade and really affected it.

This year I am trying something new.  And OMG so far it is working.  (Knock on Wood)  The first week I averaged an 80% turn in rate.  Most of the students have bought in to my new homework policy. My New Policy: Each week that they turn in their homework on time for the entire week, they will get 2 bonus points.  These bonus points will be applied to their Concept Quizzes.

(Getting the Students through the Struggle)
This year the students have come into Math with the "I hate Math" or "I can't do Math" mentality.  It has been a rough week trying to motivate these students and keep them on task.  The majority of my students do not feel that they are good at math and are struggling with even the basic concepts of integers and solving equations. :o(

 I see a glimmer of hope after the first week.  Hopefully next week the "Struggle" will get easier.  :o)

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