As teachers, we usually go into the first weeks of school assuming full responsibility for building the learning space. But what happens if we put some of that responsibility in our students’ hands instead? Our new students come to us full of ideas, stories, expertise, and curiosity. These are the essential materials for a strong classroom community. Here are a few ideas for how to put those raw materials to use:
Have you tried these or other community building activities? Tell us what works!
The 100th day of school is celebrated in schools around the country, usually near the month of February. The 100th Day of School is usually filled with activities, crafts, and math exercises based on the number 100. Here’s an idea for combining the school celebration with history.
Invite students to investigate what life was like 100 years ago. Using multiple sources, have students read and talk about the clothing that was worn during that time, who was President (or Prime Minister, King, or Queen), what inventions weren’t around then (computers and television, mobile devices, hoverboards, video games, etc), how many states were in the United States at that time (and what the US flag looked like then). Ask the students to find and share other surprising differences between now and 100 years ago. They can record their discoveries using a Venn Diagram.
To take this idea a step further, engage students in researching various aspects of a setting’s decade. Then using the information they have gathered, students communicate their findings via a presentation tool. Through the sharing of their findings, all students gain an understanding of the historical decades. This understanding can be transferred to historical novels or other studies of history. After all students have presented, students will write a paragraph explaining which decade they would have like to have experienced firsthand.
How do you celebrate the 100th Day of School?
It’s back to school time for many teachers and students! It can be an overwhelming time, with the never-ending To Do lists and details. But it can also be thought of as a time for a fresh start, beginning anew.
Here are some of the things I’ve kept in mind while starting the school year, in the 20 years I have been in education:
- Community Building: As teachers, we usually go into the first weeks of school assuming full responsibility for building the learning space. But what happens if we put some of that responsibility in our students’ hands instead? Our new students come to us full of ideas, stories, expertise, and curiosity. These are the essential materials for a strong classroom community. Here are a few ideas for how to put those raw materials to use.
- Classroom Management: Classroom management is an area where I feel ALL teachers need to constantly adjust, change and grow with their students. The English Journal article “Lessons about Motivation and Classroom Management” provides some advice and insights from interns in education.
- Projects: Students learn through inquiry about aspects of the world around them, and one way to enact student-centered inquiry is through project-based learning. Read more in the article, “Enacting Problem-Posing Education through Project-Based Learning”.
- Assessment: Assessment is different from grading. Especially at the beginning of the semester, when I am still getting to know my students, I observe and capture a series of anecdotes of student development. These can then be shared with families and administrators to provide concrete evidence of the kinds of student learning that traditional testing and reporting can have difficulty capturing. Try these strategies to use kidwatching in your classroom.
- Inspiration: I am definitely inspired by the virtual Professional Learning Community I have established. I get lots of ideas from other educators and groups on Facebook, Pinterest helps me feel crafty, and I love the energy of a Twitter Chat! Follow NCTE online as well as ReadWriteThink on social media.
What do you focus on as you prepare for the coming school year?
Can you believe it? The first day of summer will be here before we know it! Whether your school year is already over or will be soon, here are a few things to get you in the mindset:
Take some time to revel in the journey you’ve taken this school year. This blog post, What I’ll Miss, from Katherine Sokolowski offers a lovely example.
One way to prime your batteries for next school year is to learn new things! Here are a few options we recommend this summer: the Whole Language Umbrella Institute (St. Louis, MO), the online course Using Evidence to Guide Teaching and Learning, and the Conference on English Leadership Regional Institute (Bowling Green, KY).
Take care of you. A recent study from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education showed that “teachers who regularly use stress-reducing strategies increase their abilities to cope with the demands of the career and are positioned to do a better job educating students.”
We’re pretty sure you’ve got a summer reading list going already, but if not, you should definitely put #nctechat on June 19th on your calendar. The theme is “Books That Changed My Life” and we’re inviting lots of friends to participate.
If you could invite an author to join this conversation, who would you invite?
Tweet your answer to @ncte and don’t forget to tag the authors!
Also, check out Plan Now for Summer Reading, a blog post on the Literacy in Learning Exchange.
This post is reprinted from the NCTE INBOX Newsletter. Don’t currently get Inbox? Nonmembers can use this form to subscribe to receive a monthly issue of INBOX or can join NCTE to receive INBOX each week as part of their membership.
The 100th day of school is celebrated in schools around the country, usually in the month of February. Students can enjoy a break from the normal routine as they practice math skills using games and activities based on the number 100:
Have the class work as a whole and in small groups to create a class “100th Day” book. First, have students break into small groups to brainstorm a list of possible topics for the book. Some possibilities include:
- 100 poems
- 100 ways to improve the Earth (our school, etc.)
- 100 people who changed history
Each group should nominate one idea to be considered by the whole class. Have the class vote on their favorite topic, brainstorm specific ideas, and then create a book based on this topic. Proudly display your book in your classroom or school library!
Students write descriptions of 100th day bottles they create at home, write clues about their bottles for a guessing game, practice descriptive writing, and create a class book in the lesson plan “Descriptive Writing and the 100th Day of School”.
After reading two math-related books, as described in “Exploring Sets through Math-Related Book Pairs”, students investigate their home and school environments to find examples of objects that come in sets and then create their own books on sets.
“Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness” provides the “action piece” for any study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this project, students participate in Dr. King’s dream by doing 100 acts of kindness.
Students explore how their problem-solving strategies work by writing in math journals as they work in small groups to solve a math puzzle with multiple solutions in “Talking, Writing, and Reasoning: Making Thinking Visible with Math Journals”.
How do you celebrate the 100th Day of School?