1st Day of School – What Will I do?

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.

First Day of School Investigate the Teacher Activity

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.

First Day of School Activity: Learning Stations - Engage students on Day 1

What are your plans for the first day or week of school? Let me know in the comments below!

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Using Discussion Chips for Science Discussions

I love having a scientific conversation in my room. However, I want to hold everyone accountable and contribute to the discussion. As I was researching ways to hold students accountable I came across an awesome Kagan Strategy called Talking chips.

From kaganonline.com

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So basically you give students discussion chips and each time they talk they place their chip in the middle. If they run out then they have to wait until everyone has run out of chips. This works great for small groups and with the correct set up the entire class.

I usually set a specific topic of discussion. Then, I use poker chips as discussion chips, but any math manipulative would work. How do you regulate discussion in your classroom?

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Teacher on Spring Break!

So I took the week off last week to relax and spend time with my Family. On Saturday, I got to scrapbook with my sister Lindsey. Then, on Sunday we went to stay with my husbands Memaw so that we could purchase the Atlanta City Pass.

Monday we visited the World of Coke and my daughter was enthralled with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

Tuesday we met up with my mom to go to the Georgia Aquarium. We were all in Awe of everything there was to see! We got to attend two show the Seal Show and the Dolphin show. At the seal show, we had a blast and sat in the splash zone and got a little wet. So when it came time for the Dolphin show we thought hmmm we’ll sit in the splash zone again. Well, that was a mistake because we got SOAKED!! My daughter was crying and for the rest of the day she said: “Dolphin splashed me!”

Wednesday we met up with my Father-in-Law and headed to the Zoo. The favorite of the day was the Gorillas. My daughter did not want to leave their enclosure! We also rode the zoo train and the Carousel four times (My daughter rode a crane, panda, pig and a horse).

Thursday we were able to attend Fernbank. We got to do several interactive exhibits where we flew like pterosaurs, became meteorologists on the news and explored underground caves. My daughters favorite was the outdoor area and the playground. We ended the day with a 3-D movie about Pterosaurs (my daughter fell asleep).

Friday we hung out at our house and had Indian Food.

Saturday we headed to the Lake and celebrated my Mom’s Birthday. This included my daughter jumping in the water and urging me to come in too!

On Sunday – the first day I even looked at stuff for school – we tried to relax and get ready to head back to work.

What a whirlwind of Fun! I feel kinda like I need a break from break, but it was all worth it.

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Color-by-Numbers (not just for elementary)

Color-by-numbers were one of my favorite activities when I was in elementary school. However, did you know that they are not just for elementary schoolers?

A few years ago, my partner teacher introduced me to color by numbers for science class. What a fun way to change up the hum-drum of questions in a middle school class. Plus the color by number makes grading papers super easy.

How Color By Numbers for Middle School Works

First, students are given a set of multiple choice questions. Each answer choice corresponds with a number. Once the students get all of the questions answered, they use the colors to color a picture.

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Do you want to try these with your class? Here are some FREEBIES from my favorite teacher authors!

Color By Number- States of Matter Metric System - Color by Number - Back to School Science FREE Activity

Have you used Color-by-Numbers with your students? I personally love them because they are engaging and easy to grade 🙂

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Rubber Ducky You’re the One – Ocean Currents Investigation

Each year when studying the ocean currents I pull out the rubber ducky phenomena. If you have not heard of it, watch this quick video:

It’s pretty cool that rubber ducks have helped to track ocean currents in the last thirty years! My students absolutely love this activity and it may be the way I present it, but really it grabs their attention regardless.

I start off by giving them a brief paragraph to proofread (pulls in some ELA). The paragraph just tells them simply what happened for the rubber ducks to be in the ocean. We discuss it and then I tell them that NOAA needs their help tracking the data. I give them a link to text messages that have been coming in and they create a data table. Click Here to see the text messages! 

After they have their data table, I give them a map and we review how to plot things on a map using latitude and longitude (plotting points bringing in some math). Once the points are plotted we discuss how the ducks ended up all over the world.

Depending on time, I either give them an article to annotate and discuss with a partner about the ducks. Or I go ahead and give them an ocean currents map to label and color code. I found this awesome map on Layers of Learning! Click the map to get it for your students!

We then go back and look at our duck map and discover which currents the ducks could have taken to make it to certain locations.

To finish out the lesson I have students write a CER response, explaining what they learned during this process. I always get some great answers and patterns of thinking. Depending on my students I provide fill-in-the-blank or graphic organizers to pull in their thinking about Ocean Currents.

All in all, it is one of my favorite lessons to teach! How do you teach ocean currents?

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* Update! Check out my product on TpT!

Rubber Ducky You're the One - Ocean Current Investigation