Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Five Days

Week #1 of the #MTBoSChalleng - My first 5 days plan for the 2014-2015 school year.

Day 1:

The first day is usually pretty much the same at my school.  We start the day off with a whole school student meeting.  We go over some important information and discuss what this year is going to look like. We address the really important things first including answers to the two questions our principal says the kids are worried about most: Where do I put my stuff? and When do I eat?  So at this meeting we talk about the bell schedule and when lunch and snack breaks are.  We also let them know when we will be assigning lockers.  At this meeting the kids all introduce themselves, share a little something, and share their goal for the school year.

After the student meeting, we have a snack break and then get together in advisee groups for usually the rest of the morning.  In advisee groups we get the kids set up and organized for the year.  The school uses a standard binder organization for all students.  We also have them date their agenda books and write in the period numbers and class names.  This time is pretty easy-going and gives us time to chat with our new advisees about their summer and whatever else they feel compelled to share.  Then we have lunch (although lunch is late this year so we may have a class before lunch).

After lunch we usually have one class. It looks like that will be my Algebra class. This is a 60 minute class and I anticipate that we'll have the whole time.  Day 1 I am going to start with the normal routine. We will start with Estimation 180. Since some students had me last year and did Estimation 180 with me, this year we will start at Day 123.

Then we will complete a warm-up fashioned after Saxon Math's PowerUp.  My kids will do a 1-minute fact practice timing followed by 5 questions that will review calculation problems or hit on IEP objectives that I will be measuring.  Right now the categories look to be whole number operations, fractions, decimals, word problems, and basic algebra.  As the year changes and IEPs get updated those categories will most likely change.  I'm working on a form for this and will share when it is complete. Then I we'll do 31-derful as described over at Everybody is a Genius. 

If they finish up they will start the cover for their Interactive Student Notebooks.  Personalizing their covers is step one to their ownership.  The covers will be a Numbers About Me activity.  I'll either use this one or leave it more open-ended with this one I made last year.

We may have a second class, but that would be my plan period.  After that we gather back in our advisee groups to complete any unfinished tasks. We also have a chart share where students share their progress (or work on) the fluency skill practice they completed over the summer.  We dismiss a little early so that we can go over the dismissal procedures and so we can learn the kids' buses.

Days 2 - 5:

After day one we hit the ground running with a regular schedule.  Here's my outline of what I think I'm going to be doing.

Instrumental Enrichment

As discussed previously I'm going to use Q-bitz to start this metacognitive learning class.  Day one students will play the solo style version in pairs.  Day 2 we will review the 7 steps in the 7-step plan and begin analyzing the Q-bitz game using the plan. Focus on day two will be the first two steps: articulating the objective or task clearly and listing givens or known facts about the task.  Days 3 and 4 we will discuss effective strategies for solving a card beginning with starting points and listing sequential steps to solve the task.  Day 5 we will finish up with reflection on what we learned, developing a general rule from it and making bridges, or connections, from this task and what we learned to the world outside the classroom

General Science

Days 1 and 2 I am going to start with a demonstration to get the students to think about scientific method and observation.  Plus it is fun to start with something cool. The demo uses milk, food coloring, and dish detergent. Here is a good explanation of the demo and above is a video of what it looks like. I've drafted a file for students to work with. I'm not quite satisfied yet.  We will relate the scientific method to the 7-step plan they are already familiar with.  Day 3 we are going to do a sort and categorize activity with different branches/types of science.  I made cards with different field of science and the students are going to group them.  This will give an opportunity to talk about some overarching qualities of science and to talk about some word parts/morphemes that will come up often (-ology, -ist, bio-, geo-, etc). Day 4 we will continue our vocabulary investigation with an introduction of some key terms for the first unit which will be about minerals. Day 5 I will introduce the SAFMEDS method for studying vocabulary. Since the focus at our school is building independent learners, teaching the strategies for getting meaning from words, mastering vocabulary, comprehending text, note taking, etc are just as important as "covering" content.


This is a remedial reading class  using scripted curriculum from SRA Decoding. Looking over the IEPs for students in this class, I may have to integrate some spelling instruction here as well.  We will hit the ground running in this class as they already know the routine.

Middle School Literature and Writing

Day 1 we will start by watching a Simon's Cat video.  We will use it to complete as a class a Story Grammar Marker that will be used for the students to write a summary of the short video. This article at MindWing Concepts is where I got the idea.  This class of three students (grades 7 & 8) are still struggling with decoding (they are at maybe 3rd/4th grade level).  I thought introducing the elements of story grammar through a video would be less intimidating.  This class is 75 minutes and I have a lot of thinking of how I want to break this class down.  I have a general outline of where I'm going, but I need to see how they react and work before I can nail down an effective routing. Days 2- 5 will involve exploring the different aspects of the SGM through one or more Simon's Cat videos and then using those elements to write and edit a summary.


Day one was described above.  Days 2 - 4 will start with Est 180 and our warm-up and then will involve setting up Interactive Student Notebooks and some work with integers and integer operations. I think I also want to include Fawn's ark problem in during this first week. This will get nailed down a little more as I get into my office at school to select some materials and activities. I ordered new curriculum and can't wait for my CME Project Algebra 1 texts to come in. This class doesn't meet on Friday, so that gets me through the first week.  Sadly, this class has gotten the least amount of thought so far because I'm the least worried about being competent to teach it!

So that is my #1st5days Plan for 2014-2015.


  1. Wow you have a lot to plan for! I now have Q-bitz in my amazon cart. Looks like something I would love to play myself. Thanks for joining the challenge.