Let’s get this Party Started Right!

This past week was my first full week with students. Finally, we had regular classes and no special schedules or technology training. I have to admit…it was pretty wonderful. Here are some of my favorites:

  • I introduced the students to the great math philosopher, Robert Van Winkle (aka…Vanilla Ice). About a third of them were willing to dance. Another third of them were terrified when I told them that “Anything less that your best is a felony” is strictly enforced in my room. I have a board in my classroom dedicated to the wisdom of Vanilla Ice, and the day I introduce students to this board is one of the best times of the school year.
  • Similarly, I told students about my “condition.” I cannot see math when it’s written in pen. Again, about a third of the students were concerned. I heard whispers…”Do you think it’s something she can get surgery to fix?”
  • We did the Broken Circles! I stole learned about this activity from Sarah Carter’s blog and did it for the first time last year. I love it. I think it is wonderful watching the student who begins the activity with the complete circle realize that they have to give their pieces away. I did this activity in two class periods. In my E Block, all the groups finish quickly. I also noticed them cheat. My F Block took a little longer, and one group did not finish in the 10 minutes I gave them. I learned last year that the bigger the groups, the better, so this year I had groups of 5 or 6. I have students do a short reflection on this activity in Word and then email it to me as an attachment, all in the name of #techtraining. This one is a keeper!
  • I had my students open our OneNote notebooks. It was pretty painful…the internet was acting funny, and the questions were nonstop. However…it could’ve been worse. This group of students is pretty technologically savvy, and pretty chill. The day we open OneNote is a sign for me of how the year might go, and I was left pretty optimistic!
  • I played the weekly news recap that Flocabulary releases every Friday – I used it as our warm up. I hear you, friends, who believe that now is the time to discuss all the hateful things going on in the world. If you want to do that, I am really proud of you. I did not. I think I need a relationship first before I start to unpack these heavier topics with my students. Actually, I KNOW I need the relationship, because if an eleven year old says something crazy on day three, I’m going to be super pissed and hold it against them all year. Call me petty. I know it’s wrong, and teachers should be better than this. I also know how I am. I will judge. Therefore, I left it up to Flocabulary. So, the recap talked about people calling for the removal of these Confederate statues. One of my students says (to his peers, not to me) “Wait…people want to remove the statues? Aren’t they history?” Another student replies “My mom said the same thing, but I think they are of people who did bad things like own slaves. I think they should change them to people who everybody can respect.” WHA?!?! You go, little boy. Make me proud! I wonder if he knows who Missy Elliott is?
  • I did Talking Points for the first time! It’s also a keeper. I will need to model the process again to reiterate the procedure, but I loved the conversation it provoked! We did this prior to watching a Jo Boaler video about mindset boosting messages. Then the students talked about how they might change some of their answers to questions like “If I feel frustrated by a problem, I should skip it” and “Being good at math means being able to do math quickly.” It was pretty cool – I will be sure to refer back to this discussion throughout the year.

Okay. It’s time for me to go rest up. I am teaching sixth graders who are still adjusting. You never know what your limit is on how many times you can hear your name in one day until you are a teacher and this predicament becomes REAL. I need to be well rested so I can handle them with grace, rather than this:

 yelling GIF


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