This year is the first year where I have had everything laid out way ahead of time. I went into my first semester knowing exactly what would happen each week. And I am happy to say that it all worked out- even if we had a little tweaking here and there.
Top Five Things that Worked:
- Using Legends of Learning as an enrichment and remediation tool. If you have not tried this, then I urge you to do so. It is an awesome resource for science class. Students play video games and learn or practice. The best part is students don’t realize they are working!
- Vocabulary Sheets – I revamped the way I do vocabulary this year and I give weekly vocabulary sheets. The sheet has a chart for students to record vocab word, definition, and a picture. It also has them go back into their notes and highlight, star or whatnot the words. These have been an amazing asset and I think have helped students retain information.
- Weekly Homework instead of Bi-Weekly Homework – Last year I gave homework out every two weeks. It was too much time for students to have their homework assignments. This year I give out weekly homework and I have seen an increase in students actually turning in their homework.
- Having a set weekly schedule – Students know that we will have notes on Monday/Tuesday, A lab or other activity on Wednesday/Thursday and then enrichment or reteaching on Friday. It makes lesson planning easily and it also makes classes go more smoothly because students are prepared and know what to expect.
- Leaving school at school and taking time for family at home. I don’t want my daughter to see me as a mommy glued to her laptop. Therefore, I have prioritized using my planning period and actually leaving work at school. I have only brought work home a handful of times and I think it has made me a lot less stressed.
Two Things that Didn’t Work:
- Vocabulary Flashcards – My intention at the beginning of the year was to have students make cards for all their words. This did not work for several reasons. Time, not enough cards and students not using supplies wisely. It was a good idea in theory but did not work out in practice.
- Stations Each Week – This was a good idea and I love stations, but for some topics, stations don’t work. It is good to have a variety and not simply rely on station labs even if they are good!
Grading papers is probably one of my most dreaded tasks. Don’t get me wrong I love to see how my students are doing – it just takes a large chunk of time. Over the years I have found a few ways to make grading a little more fun –
Resources you might like:
Over the years I have done many things in the realm of teacher planners. When I was in China and Mississippi, I primarily planned online and via Microsoft Word (in both places I had to submit plans via email). Back home in Georgia, my school does not require us to turn in lesson plans. Thus, I started using paper planners.
First, I made my own using a downloadable from Tpt. Then, I fell in love with Erin Condren and saved up to purchase my own. Last year, I used the happy planner. Which brings us to this year – I am using the recollections teacher planner.
Up until this point each one has not worked out. The one I made took too much time to create each year. Erin Condren was a bit too expensive for me. The rings on my happy planner kept breaking. However, I think I finally found one that will work.
This a day-in-the-life video about our two unit writing days over the summer. 🙂
In the past I ran around to all the teacher appreciation events gathering all the supplies that I could.
Check out this video from a year or so ago:
This year, however, I have refrained from doing so. I realized that I did get a lot of supplies for cheap – but I really spent a lot of time doing this when I could be focused on other stuff. It was difficult and yet freeing to not look through all the back to school ads.
I really thought about what I needed for class. Glue is ALWAYS a struggle for me. I use interactive notebooks and that uses lots of glue. And it is something that I am okay dealing with because students actually keep up with their notes when they glue them into a notebook. That being said I wanted to think of an alternative to glue sticks, liquid glue, glue sponges and so forth. So here is my solution:
I am putting glue into these bottles and it is like the best of both worlds. I can have the cheapness and refill-ability of liquid glue with the ease and cleanliness of gluesticks. I actually tested them during Vacation Bible School and they worked great. I am hoping I have finally found the real solution to my glue struggle (I have thought this in the past, but this time I am more hopefull).
I also took advantage of the target teacher discount and purchased the following:
As you can see I am in love with sloths and llamas. And I cannot say enough about pastel highlighters. What have you purchased?
The first day of school is upon us – for me it is officially August 7th! I am both excited and nervous as I always am for the first days of school. I am anxious that I won’t be firm enough on the first day of school (because I have had years like that in the past) and then my whole year is ruined – not really, but it feels that way.
So, what am I going to do to set the stage?
At our school, the very first day is already prescribed for us. In all academic classes, we read through a section of the handbook. ALL. DAY. LONG. – It is one of the necessary parts of teaching. Especially because I have 6th Grade. In order to break up the monotony, I try to plan a light-hearted activity. In the past, I have played two truths and a lie, but this year I think I am going to try something new.
I am going to try an investigative challenge. Students will have to gather clues from items around my room to decide what type of teacher I am. I found this idea on Pinterest – which then lead me to TpT and teacher-author: Write With Ms. G. I am excited to try this out with my students and I will update you with how it works.
As I was perusing her store I also found a set of back to school stations. Stations are a large part of my teaching. I use a lot of Kesler station labs and others that I create myself. I thought this set of stations would be a good way to train my students how stations work, while getting them to look through the syllabus, etc.
What are your plans for the first day or week of school? Let me know in the comments below!
As I was researching Cornell Doodle Notes, I found Sunrise Science. There is an awesome Article available on her blog with tips for how to use Cornell Doodle Notes.
Please check it out for some amazing information and strategies to use these in your classroom this year!