Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday

Five for Friday {Linky Party.. August 30th}

Happy Friday!  We are linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs this week to share 5 random things from today or this past week.  Mrs. K is going to share her week of back-to-school workshop fun!

1) Introductions galore: There were new staff introductions at the Jr/Sr high staff meeting on Tuesday morning, new staff introductions at the school board meeting Tuesday night, new staff introductions at the district meeting on Wednesday morning, and new staff introductions at last night’s 7th and 8th grade orientation/open house.  On the other hand, everyone at my school is so friendly and so passionate about education.  I hear angels singing whenever my principal opens her mouth.  Honest.

2)  Wall decor:  This is the perfect poster!  It combines two of my loves: history and literacy.

3) Desk layout: We are going to be working in cooperative learning groups almost everyday.  The desks are arranged in groups of four, and we will be going over the student roles in class next week (Facilitator, Recorder, Summarizer, Presenter).

4) Bulletin Board Inspiration:  I love this link! “What Questions Do We Ask of the Past?” inspired one of the two tiny bulletin boards my windowless classroom.

5) Open-House Night:  Last night we had the seventh grade students come to school with their parents, practice getting into their lockers (struggle!), walk their schedules, and meet their teachers.  Have I mentioned I love middle school students??  After two years of teaching multiple social studies courses for students in grades 6-12, I am SO excited to teach one course to 140 seventh grade kids!  They are my favorite :)

Happy Long Weekend!  Don’t forget to pencil in some fun!

-Mrs. K

Monday, August 26, 2013

Routines and Procedures

I am officially done with the first week of my second year of teaching -- what a great feeling!  It amazed me how I felt 500% better going into this year than last.  Being at the same school, working with many of the same people, knowing several of the families and students at my school, and being familiar with all the school policies, rules, and procedures really helped me start the school year off with confidence!  In addition, I am teaching most of the same classes as last year and therefore have a working knowledge of the coursework.  I even had time to make curriculum maps to align with common core over the summer (something I did not have last year).  I can enthusiastically say I am very happy to be done with my first year of teaching and onto my second!

The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher [Book]While reading and discussing Mrs. K’s last post with her, the book The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong came to mind.  If you have not read this book, I highly suggest it!  I had the opportunity to see the Wongs speak as well, and I can honestly say the knowledge I gained from them has been more useful in my teaching than information from any other source!  The book goes through setting up rules, procedures, classroom management, positive expectations and everything else a teacher needs to start off the year on a positive note.

I looked back through The First Days of School before I started this year just to make sure I did not forget anything.  Mrs. K’s post talked about setting up procedures and routines in the first days of school, and I find this just as important as she does.  Because I work at a private K-8 school, I have many of the same students I had last year (only three students are new to the school at my grade levels).  This factor makes it difficult to set up any new-to-the-students routines and procedures or change any of my existing ones.  It may take a couple weeks, but after practicing and reviewing the new procedures I know my students will get the hang of them -- middle school students are very adaptable!  Here is a list of the routines I will continue and the routines I want to change or refine:

Routines I have:
  • Becoming quiet
  • Checking Homework
  • Lining up before class
  • Where to find the assignment
  • What to do if there was an emergency or some type of drill
  • What to do if a student was absent

Routines I want to change or refine:
  • Asking to go to the restroom
  • When to sharpen pencils
  • Starting class by entering quietly, writing down homework, and then working on the bell ringer
  • Leaving Class/at the end of the day

What routines or procedures have you tweaked over the years to improve your classroom culture?

Ms. H

Friday, August 23, 2013

Teaching Daily Routines

Happy Weekend!

For those of you like Ms. H that have kiddos back in the classroom already, bless you!  I am sure you are exhausted (*understatement*),  but I hope you had a fantastic week :)  My students return the day after Labor Day, so I am still in scrambling/planning mode over here.  

As I think about returning to the 7th grade classroom (I am coming off a two-year stint as THE 6-12 social studies teacher in a remote Alaskan village -- more on that to come!), I am reminded that seventh grade students sure have special needs!  Especially when they are new to our 7-12 building and transitioning to the secondary classroom.  Establishing routines really helps students to feel comfortable in your classroom, and it can curb behavior issues.  Consistency is key, people!

Routines I would like to establish on day one:
  • “Bell Work”
  • Handing papers in and out
  • Correcting assignments
  • Group work
  • Being prepared for class (with all necessary materials)
  • Organization

Day 1 Overview:
  • Briefly introduce self
  • Explain ‘Bell Work’
  • Complete ‘Bell Work’
  • Explain the use of folders- show students where to keep ‘Bell Work’ worksheet until their collection at the end of the week
  • Transition to materials needed- have students hold up what they have
  • Group activity- have students define “history” *Make this part content specific*
  • Go over group work expectations and roles
  • Turn in group activity answer sheet- practice the correct way to turn in papers
  • Record homework in planner, and touch on how to use your planner to stay organized

How do you establish your classroom routines the first few days (or weeks even!) of school?  

-Mrs. K

Monday, August 19, 2013


Meet the Secondary Sisters!  We are two middle school teachers (and sisters!) who are excited to share our classroom adventures with you as we begin a new school year.  We live in different states and teach different subjects, but we both LOVE what we do!  A little bit about the sisters:

Mrs. K:
  • 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher
  • Teaches at a 7-12 public school in a rural Midwestern area
  • Beginning 5th year of teaching
  • BA in Social Science with minors in Secondary Education and History, working on MEd in Reading and Literacy Education
  • Certified in 5-12 Social Studies

Ms. H:
  • 7th and 8th Grade Math Teacher and 8th Grade Religion Teacher
  • Teaches at a K-8 private school in an urban Midwestern area
  • Beginning 2nd year of teaching
  • BS in Math Education and BA in Secondary Education with endorsements in math and business
  • Certified in 5-12 Math and Business
Follow us as we swap stories, resources, and our lives in the secondary classroom!

- Mrs. K & Ms. H