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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Reported by Mr. Coley

After much anticipation and preparation, the first day of school had finally arrived! I opened the door to the classroom at a little after 8:00 so students could come on in, find their seats, and get used to the room that would be their school home for the next 180 days. I was glad to have the opportunity to meet several parents who accompanied their children to class. As the clock ticked closer to 8:20, more and more students trickled in. While students waited for the rest of their classmates to arrive, they worked on a Back-to-School activity packet I had placed on their desks.

When the bell rang, I began by introducing myself. I think everyone was a bit nervous about being in a new class with a new teacher, so I assured them we are going to have a great year (and that teachers get nervous too). Next, I passed out a piece of paper to each of the students. I told the class that on each piece of paper was a letter written by last year’s students giving this year’s class some advice on what they could expect this year in Room 34. After reading the letters, the students asked questions about what they read, and we discussed various aspects of life in Room 34—things like Coley Cash, the Paper Clip Chain, the Quiet Seat, Fun Day, Student of the Week, and the Weekly Homophone Challenge.

Once we finished our discussion on classroom rules and procedures, it was time to get up and out of our seats. So that we all could get to know each other better, I had the students go on a classroom scavenger hunt. Students had to go around the classroom and find other students who were on “the list.” For example, they had to find someone who had been to Disneyworld, someone who is left-handed, someone who has a pet other than a cat or dog, and someone who has read at least three books this past summer. For the next twenty minutes or so, the room was filled with students asking each other questions like “Do you like to read?”, “Did you see Twilight: Eclipse?”, and “Have you visited more than five states?”

When we had finished learning that no one in class is an only child, several students in the class have fish as pets, and six children have a name containing more than seven letters, I assigned students their classroom numbers. Then it was time for students to choose classroom jobs. We learned about the different jobs and randomly selected students to fill them for the next two weeks. They were very excited to learn that they get paid for doing their jobs, but not as excited to hear they would be paying taxes on what they earn.

Before going to recess, I took some time and, using our classroom’s projection system, showed the class our classroom website,mrcoley.com. I briefly explained some of the site’s features such as Club Ed, ColeyCast, and iPod flash cards. Students were excited to hear that their writing, artwork, and voices (for our podcast) will soon grace the website’s pages. I showed them how visitors from all over the world will be seeing their work. In fact, just this morning our website had visitors from Canada, Germany, France, and Australia! Finally, I took a moment to show the class how our podcast can be found in iTunes. Think of it. Justin Bieber and the students of Room 34, side by side in iTunes. How cool is that?!

After our much-needed recess (5th grade students don’t get a break until 11:15), I showed students a math magic trick. The trick looks like I'm magically guessing a number between 1 and 63, but really I'm just performing simple mental math. The students were impressed, and I told them I'd do the trick again later and show them how to do it.

Next, I took some time to go over some school supplies like “Homework” folders, “Work in Progress” folders, and Minder Binders. After the students wrote down their homework and checked their mailboxes, we spent a few minutes going over the various forms that needed to be taken home, signed by a parent, and returned tomorrow. While it may have seemed like a lot of homework, I reminded them that it’s really their parents’ homework to sign all the forms. It’s the students’ job to make sure their parents do their homework! Students seemed to like looking at it that way.

With about 10 minutes left until lunch, students chose names for their table groups. Since we are going to spend the year studying the United States and its history, I asked the students to work together and choose a state to name each of their tables. After much discussion and voting at the individual tables, it was decided that the three tables of Room 34 would be named Hawaii, New York, and Florida.

Following lunch, it was time for an art project that incorporated the concept of symmetry. The goal was to create what I call Symmetrical Name Creatures. I passed out to each student a crayon and a folded piece of orange construction paper with their name written on one half of it. Students traced over their name with the crayon, making sure to press hard and leave a lot of crayon on the paper. Then they folded the paper so it covered up their name. By rubbing the paper with the flat side of a pencil, students produced a mirror image of their name on the opposite side of the paper. We ran out of time, but tomorrow we'll finish up the project by coloring the name and it's reflection with crayons so that it will look like a creature from outer space.

The final item on today’s agenda had me read aloud to the class. I began to read a book titled Among the Hidden (one of my favorite books). The first chapter introduced a boy named Luke who isn’t allowed to play outside like he used to be able to. He even has to hide upstairs when someone comes to the door, while his parents hide all evidence that he lives there. In Chapter 2, we learned the reason Luke has to hide is because the country in which he and his family live has a law that states families can only have two children. Since Luke is a third child, he has had to remain hidden his entire life. Bummer! The class was definitely intrigued by the book—I can’t wait to read some more tomorrow!

With just a few minutes left before the bell rang, students packed up their things and got ready to go. I had presented them with a lot of new information today, so I took a moment to assure the class that every day would not be full of passing things out and explaining procedures. I told them they did an awesome job today and not to worry – there was plenty of fun to come. The day ended with the announcement that the Quiet Seat was quiet, and that it was none other than Taylyn! After dismissing the class, I walked to my desk and sat down to rest. It’s been a while since I’ve stood up all day! I’m tired, but I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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