The first day of school I dedicated to getting to know the students and giving them an opportunity to get to know me. On the second day, I switched it up and focused on building classroom expectations and getting set up for the year to come. I started by grouping the students - the incoming 9th graders had to be from different middle schools in each group and the returning sophomores had to be from different English classes the previous year. This was meant to get them out of their comfort zones a little bit, force them to meet someone new and also to set them up for the next unit (which will require these mixed groups).
I started with two-minute timed writes on sticky notes. I posted 6 prompts around the room and gave the students a sticky-note and two minutes to respond to each one. For my 10th graders I had them do every prompt individually and silently. After each prompt I had them post it on the corresponding poster. For my 9th graders (who are much more high-energy and kinesthetic) I carefully selected some prompts for them to do silently and others that they worked with their groups to answer. The questions with red stars are the ones that I asked they answer as a group. This activity took me about 25 minutes. Beneath each question I wrote my justification for asking it/how I plan to use it in the future for my class.
The students need to do independent reading and I am hoping to use this list to pick books for them to select from that will be high interest. I also want to look closely about what they enjoyed about the reading process and see if there is any information that I can translate into how I teach reading in my class.
During my next unit, I am going to ask the students to look at this information from their peers to contribute to a "Books we Recommend" bulletin in our classroom.
This one is just for me. I wanted to keep the question positive, so rather than asking what their weaknesses were, I posed the question this way. I am going to look through these and use the feedback to guide what I teach throughout the year.
This one was really to force the students into a brief moment of introspection and remind them that ultimately they are responsible for their education. I am also going to ask students to pull quotes from here for the "KR Way" bulletin board that they will be asked to design.
This was another prompt to gently remind my students why it is that they are here and get them to internalize the idea that the skills we will work on throughout the year are applicable in real-world settings. I am going to ask students working on the Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Vocabulary bulletin boards in the next mini-unit to pull quotes from these notes.
This is 100% for my information. I wanted to see what these kids felt worked for them and if there were any trends in the "help" that they needed.
Again, this one was designed to get the kids thinking about the year ahead and the purpose of what we are doing. It was meant to motivate them a little.
The second activity we completed was this quadrant chart that I was inspired to do based off a board on pinterest. Before telling the students what we were doing, I reminded them that (should they all attend class every day - a teacher's dream) we would need to peaceably coexist for apx. 200 hours. I told them that this will require some guidelines for the behavior that will help everyone to flourish in this environment. I let them know that rather than my handing out rules from on high, they would be creating the rules themselves. Today they began the process by brainstorming what makes a great classmate. Next week the group in charge of the "Classroom Expectations" bulletin board will be asked to translate these lists into expectations for their bulletin board.
Here is a link to the bulletin board assignment that is referenced throughout this post: http://roselynrobison.blogspot.com/2014/06/bulletin-board-assignment.html.