The first day of school is almost upon us. We begin Wednesday, and I’m going to use a first day activity I’ve used before. Here it is:
On the first day we have lots of comings and goings because of schedule changes, so I start with an easy activity and a game. I have the students take the first ten minutes to write down any questions they have about me or the class on 2″ by 2″ pieces of paper. They can ask anything they want and do not put their names on the slips of paper. I don’t have to answer a question, but it’s rare to get an inappropriate question. The kids drop their slips of paper into my Mariners cap and away we go.
I answer every appropriate question, even if it’s a silly one because this is how we get to know one another. I always hated the list of rules (I don’t have any rules in my classroom–never needed them) and the reading of the syllabus on the first day, and this allows me to answer their questions, making their interests the focus from day one. It’s their class after all.
This takes about 30 minutes, and then I give them some word puzzles to complete in groups for the ever-requested extra credit. It’s only five points, but they think it’s a billion and will do anything for the points. This ends the period.
P.S. I was working in my classroom today, and one of my students from last year informed me that she’s with me again this year. She then asked if they get to ask me questions again this year. I said “yes” and she giggled and said she’s been thinking about some questions she thought of this summer. She’s an innocent so I don’t fear her questions but had that one kid (that we’ve all had) said the same thing, I’d be quaking in my boots.
Idaho is now requiring that middle school students pass 80% of their 7th and 8th grade classes to advance into high school. I say this is a valid decision, and I’m curious to follow the results. As a high school teacher, I see too many students entering well below grade level, essentially placed in a position where they are doomed to fail.
According to the article:
“Students understand that middle level doesn’t count,” said Rob Sauer, the state Department of Education’s deputy superintendent for innovation and choice….”It’s an issue because you hear from these students who are very capable, but they don’t think school counts until ninth or 10th grade,” [state Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa] McGrath said.
Idaho must prepare for a bit more crowding in the middle schools, but I think this is worth it. Waiting until 9th grade–10 years into the system–to hold students accountable is way too late. I wish them well in this venture and look forward to seeing the results over the next 7-10 years.
Language advisory! But, oh, so funny.
Only one state west of the Mississippi was awarded Ract To The Top monies. Should be we be suspicious?
Of course, those other states won, but sold their souls. Still, it seems odd that so many states so far east “won” while the rest “lost.”
I’m glad we “lost.”
I had one of those days where I questioned my future in the profession. Decisions being made, not for kids, but for numbers and bad policy made me think I had seen the Dark Side and its cold embrace in my school.
I know one day doesn’t decide a career (normally), but I have to say that a series of these types of days could do it.
Someone on a message board said, “I have yet to find an administrator who isn’t willing to make decisions that the teachers hate.” Boy, if that didn’t sum up my day.