As July slips away quickly and August is around the corner, I start to ponder about what the first day of school will look like this year. In past years, I have always had a similar plan for the first day of school. We would do our usual read alouds - Chrysanthemum or No David No, depending on if we were going to co construct the classroom rules the first day or not. We would do some community building activities and possibly do a scavenger hunt around the school. This is NOT what I will be doing this year.
I will be having my exact class from last year, so I will be in the same room teaching grade 2/3. My school is open concept, which means that there are no walls between myself and the 2 other classes in my pod. For the past 2 years, I have team taught with the same teacher. We taught 40 students in what looked liked 2 rooms side by side with no doors. We had a very large meeting carpet in the centre of the room and had our desks on either side. We team taught but there was still a distinction between my class and the other class. This is NOT what I will be doing this year.
Although my students had choice with whom they worked with and where they sat during work time, they all had their own desk and spot where they called their own. This is NOT what I will be doing this year.
This year, I am planning on sending home invitations to my students and their families to join us the first hour of the first day of school. These are families that have been with me for up to 3 years. I want to connect with them the very first day of school. I want to send them a positive message that I want them to be a part of our room and our program. I want to know how their summer was and what new adventures took place. I also want them to meet their new teacher and to see how different their classroom looks. I will be team teaching with Sarah Watson Jones this year. We have decided to recreate our space. We are getting rid of all of the desks and have asked for various size tables. We will have quiet spaces, collaborative spaces, spaces for building, reading, recording, designing and a few open spaces left for the children to create. There will be no distinction between the 2 classes. They will all be "our students", this year instead of "mine" and "yours".
I am aiming for a "cafe" kinda feel, so on the first day of school, we will have coffee, tea, juice and goodies for the students and their guests. I am going to go to my local Starbucks and Tim Hortons to see if they will donate some cups and coffee for the event. I will also be asking families to bring in a framed picture of their family to hang in our room. I found this idea on Pinterest and thought this would be perfect for our new space. Instead of putting them on a book shelf, we have a large rectangular post in our room that I will hang all of the pictures on.
Something that I did last year that I will be repeating this year is, I will be sending home magnets with the class blog and twitter handle and school phone number on them. I bought Avery Personal Creations Inkjet Magnet sheets at Walmart for around $12.00 for 5 sheets. You print right onto the magnet sheets and cut them to the size you want. My husband, Eric Wideen created the image on Photoshop, we printed them, cut them out with a paper cutter and voila, they were done!
I will read a few read alouds the first day. I think I will pick a few of my students favorites from last year. We will also be doing some team building and collaboration activities for the classroom that I learned at the ADE Institute with the talented Rebecca Stockley. Here is a website with many of the activities she used at the Institute improvencyclopedia.org/games/
My boards are empty in anticipation for student work and co constructed anchor charts. I have changed all of the bulletin boards and have a common theme. The predominate colours in my room are chocolate brown, lime green, yellow and green and white polka dots. Sarah and I choose to do the entire space the same colours so our 2 spaces would look more like one giant space.
Lastly, technology has a large role in my classroom and I know my students will want to jump right in. I am going to ask them to create "My Most Memorable Moment This Summer" project. They may choose anyway to create or show their most memorable moment. If they decide not to use technology and use art supplies, legos or anything else they think of that is alway acceptable too. I can't wait to see what they create because they always surprise me with their creativity and their individual talents always shine through when given choice.
What are your plans for the first day of school?