I DID IT! I survived the first week of second grade, again!
It was actually probably my best first week yet!
I spent lots of time at the end of the year preparing for back to school. Opening my Back to School box was such a relief, because so much work was already done!
Of course, those are the perks of staying at the same school and teaching the same grade level in the same room. Life doesn't always work out that nicely.
But as for this year, it was wonderful!
We started off the year with First Year Jitters and "jitter juice." I know this is a popular first day activity, but I had never done with before. After researching "jitter juice" recipes, I ended up going with knock-off Sprite and rainbow sprinkles. Although I loved the sprinkles, next year I plan to add some color somehow, probably by mixing in a little punch.
I continued to use First Day Jitters as a mentor text all week, because I am trying Jivey's mentor sentences this year
Another favorite first day activity that we did was a snowball fight! I start off by getting the kids thinking about their summers. Raise your hand... if you went to the beach! ...if you went to the pool! ...if you went to a different state! ...if you watched TV! ...if you read a book! ........ if you had a SNOWBALL FIGHT! Of course not.
I got the snowball fight idea from another teacher a few years back. Students write 3 facts about themselves on a piece of paper but do not write their names. Then they make "snowballs" by crumpling up the papers. I usually give students the length of one song to have their snowball "fight." When the song ends, they unroll and read their snowballs aloud one at a time and we try to guess who wrote it. My kids this year did such a great job that I gave them another chance to throw their snowballs afterwards!
Another favorite that I always do it graph our first day feelings. I did it at the end of the day this year, and I allowed the students to come up with the feelings. We had had a fantastic fun day, so they were feeling good! (And I am totally flattered that someone came up with "lucky!" Be still my heart!) Results in the morning are always a little different. I saw that a good friend of mine had her students graph their feelings in the morning and then again in the afternoon to compare. I'm doing that next year!
We jump into writing quickly during the first week. Students always love doing Me & We Books, which I have done since my first year teaching (thanks to my amazing first team)! I pair up the students to work on the pages together. I always make sure that lower-achieving or ELL students are in groups of three in order to eliminate pressure during the first week. When they are done, we turn them into a book. I used Astrobrights this year and our book is gorgeous!!
These books always take forever for some reason, so I give them a few days to work on it. While my students were working on their pages on our first day, I called them individually to take first day pictures!
I've never done pictures before, so I have no idea what I'm going to do with them... ha! Any great ideas? They sure are cute, though! This chalkboard apple is from the Target Dollar Spot. (I have a love/hate relationship with that place.)
Here are some other things that we did during the first day:
1: First Day Feelings - I promise that sticky note above "afraid" had "lucky" written on it, so I moved it! Scouts honor!
2: We reflected on all of the day's activities, then the students voted on their favorite.
3: After I introduced Class Dojo and my behavior management system, we talked about what makes a good student and what makes a good teacher.
4: Also after discussing behavior, we wrote and signed our own Class Constitution.
This year, I saved some of my favorite activities to do throughout the week, instead of stuffing them all into one day. It made our first day a lot less chaotic and a little more enjoyable!
Students ALWAYS LOVE playing All About Me Four Corners! It's a great way to get the students up and moving. You also get to observe reading/comprehension skills as well as who can follow directions and maintain self-control during a game. It's very telling!
This year, I totally STOCKED UP on these back to school books, recommended by Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher. I totally trust her and ordered about 8 new back to school books from Amazon to add to my collection!
Some of our favorite books that we read this week are Maria Dismondy's books that are all about character education and promoting kindness. We haven't read them all yet, but so far, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is definitely the favorite!
I am in love with Chandra's Kindness Counts unit. Her unit, along with my new books, have definitely improved our classroom community already. Look how cute!!!!
I used this prompt, after reading Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, as the first narrative writing of the year. It was a pre-assessment that also allowed me to get to know the students all in one, and I love how it looks on my writing board!
I also love using my Back to School news writing activity during the first week. This week I did it kind of unofficially, and the students worked on their pages, as they desired, during morning work. I use a choice board in the morning, so it was optional. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to spend on this project this week!
I'm using tables this year instead of desks (for the first time) so we, as a class, spent a lot of time talking about how we were going to organize our supplies differently than they did in first grade.
These caddies aren't mine (because mine aren't cute enough) so can we please take a moment to admire how adorable The Elementary Darling's caddies are?! (Sigh!)
Lastly, I introduced Daily 5 this week with my students. The first lesson we teach is that there are 3 ways to read a book: Read the pictures, read the words, and retell a familiar story.
I always use Peter Spier's RAIN to teach about reading illustrations, but I bought a new book this year to teach reading the words. My students ABSOLUTELY LOVED The Book With No Pictures. Why did I wait so long to buy this book?! It's hilarious and so perfect for this lesson!
Other than all of that, we filled the rest of our time with learning and practicing behavioral expectations and classroom routines. I taught lots of PBIS lessons (given to me by my admin) and made sure my students know that I have very high expectations for them.
Did I miss anything?
What are you favorite first week activities that I should add to my repertoire?
Let me know in a comment below, and good luck with your first week!
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