Ready, Set, Go!

Today was the first day of my 16th year of teaching middle school English Language Arts. Even as I type this,  I am in awe (and mostly horrified) at how fast the first fifteen years have flown by. This year I plan to blog more about the things happening in room 213. Easier said than done with 90+ students this year, but I have fantastic readers and writers in my Enriched Language Arts classes, and if last year was any indication, we are off to the races to do some deep thinking and learning about ourselves and our place in the world. I look forward to sharing our journey with you!

Day 1: Welcome to Room 213!

Instead of the typical first day of procedures and expectations speeches, I wanted to do something different this year. I love Ben Bache’s PBL Project Weekly Warm Ups and my seventh grade class was instantly hooked as they studied new apps of the future and created new and exciting apps that will make consumers’ lives easier and “happier”. Tomorrow students will present to small focus groups and revise their app pitches. We will then create final presentations and share in a gallery walk on Friday. As I walked around and eavesdropped on conversations taking place, there will be apps of all sorts being shared tomorrow!

My sixth grade class is brand new to the building and so I presented Adam Rex’s School’s First Day of School as a great conversation starter. I simply asked them to jot down what they noticed as I read the book to them. If you haven’t read this fantastic picture book, I hope you check it out. I love the crayon pictures! School has a rough start, but after awhile he realizes that he’s not the only one who is nervous. It’s a great mentor text for personification, too. We had a great discussion about how the author conveyed the idea of being new to a situation and it not being as scary as you thought it might be.

My two ninth grade classes were given a spelling test on the first day of school! The looks on their faces as I asked them to get out a piece of paper and number 1-30 were priceless. I used The most commonly misspelled words in every state according to Google list that has been making the rounds on social media the last few weeks. We then had a conversation about the infographic and the data it shares. It led to a great conversation!

Tomorrow my two groups of 8th graders taking 9th grade English will be working on a 100 word story using a snap shot of their summer break. Because of shortened periods and a lot of questions today, we did not get to start on them, but this is a very creative group of writers (some of whom successfully completed NaNoWriMo as 7th graders) so I know they will jump right in. Here is an example that I used from my summer vacation last year:

Taco Tuesday

In hindsight, I had definitely used the wrong tool for the job. A three second decision had cost me a three hour visit to the emergency room. While prepping for Taco Tuesday, I decided to make my famous guacamole. Grabbing a knife from the drawer, I quickly clenched an avocado in the palm of my hand and aimed for the pit. A blood curdling scream brought my husband racing into the kitchen, only to behold the knife in my middle finger and the pit still in the avocado. I was about to get three stitches and Taco Tuesday was cancelled.

How have you shaken things up and started off the school year in a unique way? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Lesley ♥