Week One 2008-2009

We started with kids on Wednesday. But most of the day was spent in 1st period going over our school wide discipline plan, binders and planner organization, policies and procedures. Literally from 8:15-12:30 in one class going over all this stuff. The rest of the day the kids practically RAN through classes that were only 15 mins each. I pretty much did roll call, got to know some names, introduced myself… handed out the obligatory syllabus and then the bell rang.

So this year for First Trimester I have: (in this order)

  1. 6th grade beginning Computer Tech (I will have this group all year, we will do art and digital art in the following trimesters)
  2. Planning Period (and travel from computer room to art room which are in separate buildings)
  3. 6th grade Exploratory Art with a group of 26
  4. 6th grade Exploratory Art with a group of 34+ mostly ELL kids
  5. 8th grade Art with a group of 16, many repeat TAB kids that are ready to go, and other new kids that either decided not to take band anymore (mostly Challenge/Gifted kids) and some brand new to the school/district)
  6. 8th grade ADV. Computer Tech (Running off to the other building in our 4 min passing time with the halls packed with kids)
  7. 8th grade ADV. Computer Tech (I will have this group all year, we will do art and digital art in the following trimesters)

(side note: Our Middle School students sign up for either band/choir or “Unified Arts.” In the unified track the kids end up with a 3 trimester combo of general music, exploratory art, computer tech, family consumer science, or digital art. (only a random combo of 3 of the above~ NOT all five.) It is not the Junior High model where they might get to ELECT which of the 5 they get. We no longer have Shop class. These of course are the students that don’t have to take an EXTRA math class or an EXTRA reading class. No arts for them.)

Day two (in the art classes) I wanted to get right to some art… so I had the kids sit in groups of 4, and then brainstorm a list of animals. Then I handed them a bag of recycled stuff (plastic lids in a variety of sizes, string, old CDs, straws, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, chunks of wood, raffia, yarn, Popsicle sticks, a chunk of modeling clay, broken crayons, paper clips, etc) and in their group, they had 12 minutes to make a “Garbage Animal.” The requirements were that they could NOT use anything that was not already in the bag. They could not get glue or tape or scissors. They had to use creative problem solving to make something that was attached and could stand up on their own. It had to be creative, recognizable as an animal (real or imaginary) and they had to give it a name. They really had fun and were happy to be making art instead of having another day of filling out forms, or listening to rules and procedures. After 12 mins of creation, they selected a group leader to present their animal and then place it in the ZOO. I discovered after the first class that I had not been explicit enough with explaining the requirement of it all needing to be attached! I really enjoyed watching the groups. It was great way to get to know them, watching who was the automatic leader, who was the idea maker, who sat back either too shy or too apathetic to get involved. Creatively, the animals were a little on the disappointing side… lots of turtles and worm/snakes (they knew these wouldn’t topple over.) There were a couple of brave giraffes, a very inventive bull/mouse, a floating octopus and a butterfly.

In computer tech classes we jumped right on the computers and worked on setting up our online learning profiles/accounts. My entire class is taught on Moodle. By the end of Friday, most of the kids in my two 8th grade classes had already worked through the 6 intro assignments I had available. My homework this weekend will be to make a bunch more assignments for them. Since some of them have had computers before, this will be either their second or third year taking it with me, I really have to come up with all new material! I am going to try to implement some TAB ideas in this class and have the students  create their own assignments. The problem will be the kids that are also in the 8th grade class that have never had a computer class before. This weird system of assigning kids to classes that are all different levels is the reason I switched to TAB in the art room.

Day Three: In the first week, I usually have them do a “Who are you” worksheet. It is art (or computers) related so that I can know a little about their background. But I heard from the kids that they were doing some kind of intro letter or worksheet in almost every class. So I went with a different approach. I had them pick a partner (preferable someone they did NOT already know well) They had 3 mins to interview them on the following questions. (Power Point slide projected on the screen, as we are also trying to create fewer copies, wasted paper worksheet, go green!)

  1. What is your name?
  2. What is your favorite kind of art to make?
  3. Have you ever entered any art contests and have you won any awards?
  4. What is your favorite artistic color?
  5. What kind of art are you most excited about making this trimester?

After 3 mins, they switched and interviewer became interviewee. I told them to jot down some notes on a scrap paper as needed, so they would be prepared to speak. Then, they had to each stand up to introduce the classmate that they interviewed to the class. I took down notes about each student as they were introduced. I LOVED it, because I didn’t have to read through 150 intro papers this weekend. The kids didn’t hate it! It is fun to hear someone else talk about you in a positive way. All of them showed they were capable of speaking in front of a group. The intros were short and sweet so it wasn’t like a big speech. They only had to stand at their seat, and they stood with the person they were introducing, much less intimidating than standing alone in front of the class. The only problems were a little side talking and wiggling as we got further into the introductions, being a good audience member can get hard after kid #23.

Before the interview process began, I modeled what the introduction should sound like by introducing myself (in third person.) It went like this:

“This is Ms. Gaub. She really loves making collage because she likes cutting and tearing paper. She has entered and won many art contests, and has even showed her artwork in galleries selling it for thousands of dollars. (lots of wide eyes when I said this) Her favorite artistic color is Cerulean Blue. This year, she is looking forward to making a really big painting of her dog.”

I told them that all this was true, so now they knew a little bit about me, and they knew how the introduction should sound.

My Asst. Principal came in while we were doing the student introductions. (They are really working the rooms in the first few days.)  I think she was impressed, since I see my activity was mentioned in the weekly notes of “great happenings in the classroom.”

So, in a nutshell, (this is the longest beginnning of school entry I have penned in many years) I think it was a great start to the year. My new 6th graders are dolls! I walked into my first period class on Friday and said, “Good morning class” and got an untrained, unplanned, “Good Morning, Ms. Gaub” right back from the whole class. SWEET!