Day 1-2: Laying the Foundation

So we got back to the grind this week in Mississippi. This year I am teaching four geometry courses, one physics course, and one astronomy course. Add to that, this year I also have made the change to Standards-Based Grading.

I could sit and plan all summer for my first day of school. I want students to be blown away by their first encounter with our learning environment. Last year, I feel like students had a pretty good experience; however, I also feel like my classroom management was a bit lackadaisical (NOTE: I am not ascribing any correlation between the two variables), so this year I had to do things a little differently.

I still wanted to provide students with a unique, fun learning experience, but I first wanted to emphasize our daily routine and procedures. So we practiced entering the classroom, working on the daily / Bell Ringers, and moving into and out of groups. After we had laid out a solid foundation we moved on to some more interactive tasks.

SIDENOTE: Since adopting the methods I have found it very difficult to encourage the necessary classroom dialogue while also keeping all students involved and on task. It’s a bit easier with the upper classmen in physics, but my younger students in geometry make it quite a hassle. In no way do I want to be the guy constantly handing out detention, but I desire more to maintain the classroom environment. I would love to hear from experienced modelers on how they achieve this balance.

In Geometry we worked on a couple of in groups. These activities went over pretty well with students and allowed me to launch into the . We got to discuss what each practice looks like and then discussed which ones they used in the two activities. I gave everyone a copy to place as the first entry in their notebooks. We finished by taking the to help me determine at what stage my students are and to see how far we can move them along throughout the course of the year.

In Physics we began by doing Frank Noschese’s and then followed it up with the Marshmallow Challenge. A student assembly cut my block short and that was about all we had time for.

And finally, in Astronomy, I had students, in 140 characters or less, describe NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. After that we had time to have a contest to see which group could come up with the most astronomically named products/brands. By the way, this activity brought to the light the fact that, I am really out-of-the-loop with the products that adolescents are familiar with.

Overall, I was very pleased with my student’s performance and the overall flow of the first class periods and am very excited about what this year holds.

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