Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Starting the year off right! Getting to know your students.

It's August 31st, the day before school starts. 

This will be my 36th year in the classroom, and you know what? I STILL get excited (and nervous) before a new school year. I STILL spend hours and hours getting myself ready for my classes. (And as I keep saying: the year I do NOT get nervous and excited is the year I step away from the classroom!)

I have these..... "Getting Ready Ceremonies". 

One of them is preparing a yearly plan, with a line for each week. (When I first started teaching, I would do it meticulously on lined paper. Then I moved it over to WORD. Today I do it in Googledocs! (Which is why I can share it here!) You can make a copy and use it if you feel it will help you!

Another "Ceremony" is getting to know my students. I need all sorts of information from them. 

I want to know how THEY write their names in English.
I want to know their mobile phone numbers (to build a WhatsApp group.... I am considering using a broadcast group this  year instead of a regular group... any thoughts on that?)

I want to know if they all have smartphones (because I like incorporating smartphones in the lessons and I need to know what to expect)

I always use an email group (even though I am considering using Google Classroom this year... but I still haven't decided about that finally). 

I also want to know what learning styles work for them. 

I have not yet decided for sure which literature to teach, and I would like to know what genres interest them. Not that they will decide, but again - I want to know my audience. 

Finally, since I am getting a new class of 11th graders, I want to know if there is anything THEY think I should know about them. 

Of course, we will be doing an icebreaker activity, to get to know each other, but that's not enough. (Sharing that here, too - it's based on an activity from Jennifer Gonzales' "Icebreakers that Rock".) I want this information to come to me, individually. Which is why I make a Googleform to gather all of the information that I want. I embed it in my class website, and post a QR Code below it so kids will be able to scan it and respond in the lesson, on their smartphones.

So... that's it! I guess I'm ready! 

Roll on September 1!!!!

What do YOU do to get YOUR new school year started?

Have a GREAT school year everyone!!!!

Digitally yours, 


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