“The most important day of a person’s education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day.” – H. Wong
I was hoping after the first three days of the year, I would have something amazing and profound to share, but it is difficult for me to put these first three days into words.
This year, I felt like we were able to hit the ground running. (Of course it helps that my teammate has taught all of the 6th graders on our team before, and I know them decently well!) The first three days were filled with smiles, laughter, teamwork, reading, vocabulary development, conversations, investigations and collaboration. I could not be happier.
On our very first day of school, both my 5th graders (pictured below) and 6th graders were able to generate a list of mathematical questions that could be answered by analyzing an image, using prior knowledge and estimation skills. For this activity, we used the image from day 41 of Andrew’ Stadel’s Estimation 180. Estimation 180 has been one of may favorite ways to encourage students to communicate with each other about mathematical reasoning and allow them to become more comfortable justifying their thinking. Last year, I used the Estimation 180 tasks in a whole class activity modeled after the style of a number talk. This year, collaboration is one of key components in my classroom, so I modified how I used Estimation 180 with teams of students. It put the biggest smile on my face, when students took it up on themselves to use tools while working together as a team to answer some of the mathematical questions that were proposed. (Remember, this is day ONE of the school year). They got right out of their seats and walked up to the board to start making measurements and sharing their reasoning. This requires a huge “Thank-you” to their teachers prior, who instilled in them the skills and confidence necessary to jump right back into thinking and learning.
On day two, we began our first hands on science activity. We modeled on the SMART Board how to set up our science notebooks to introduce to students how their notebooks were going to be organized. Then both the 5th and 6th graders used their sense of sight, smell and touch to make observations about each sample. The teams then had to come to a community consensus, just as scientists do, about their theory as to the contents of each sample. The strawberries, bananas, carrots and sweet potatoes were correctly identified and agreed upon, but the spinach and blackberries stumped most of the 5/6 scientists!
All in all, the first few days were a beautiful balance of relationship building, schedule learning, and content instruction. I was on the verge of tears multiple times during the first three days, in the best way possible. Nothing will ever be better than beginning of the day, middle of the day and end of the day hugs and the “thank yous” kids share for various reasons.
If the first three days are any indication how the rest of the year will unfold, I am in for one of the greatest rides of my life. I am truly blessed to have had such a smooth transition in to year 6!
Side Note! So excited to share the solar eclipse with these awesome kiddos on Monday!