Well, it’s that time of the year again. Back to School season. It is actually one of my favorite seasons of the year! I happen to be a huge school supply need, so back to school shopping is my favorite. I always buy more than I need and spend more than I should, but I get excited. It is also my favorite season because you get to set up your classroom and prepare to delight and enlighten students with a love for learning and a love for science. Teaching is all about making it fun and interesting. I love to share that fun with the kids! Today, I am going to share my ideas for starting off the year with fun with you! I have added hyperlinks into this post in case you need to see which resources I prefer to use.
From day one, I let my students know how much fun science will be. I build up the anticipation by talking about the kinds of labs and activities we will cover throughout the year. This anticipation and excitement is a perfect opening to lead into behavior. I explain to them how important it is to follow the rules and listen in science. Labs can be dangerous of rules are not followed. I always tell my students that if they are not following the rules and listening, I can trust them with lab equipment. Right off the bat, I find behavior better because they want to participate in labs! I have a behavior system of warnings and rewards that my kids have loved. It includes a fishbowl to fill with fish for good behavior, a cat moving closer to the fishbowl for warnings, and the cat can eat fish out of their bowl for each redirection after the cat gets to the bowl. Works like a charm! The reward I find most effective is allowing students to pick their seating chart for a period of time. They actually work pretty hard to get rid of my seating chart. A daily reminder that good behavior = labs and fun activities helps. They always say to start the year off tough and scare the kids into good behavior. Well, at 5 feet 1 inch, I am not scary. I can’t be scary if I try my hardest. I did worry I would have troubles with discipline because of my lack of scare tactics, but my creativity paid off and I never felt I had lost a student. No student wants to be left out of a lab! I think I had one or two that did miss a lab and completed a handout over the information. It only happened once to each of them 🙂
It really helps to get your classwork started from day one. Don’t plan nonsense days for the first week of school for two reasons. One, the kids will consider it play time because they can tell it is not an important week and you have lost them from the beginning. Reason two, time is a precious commodity in teaching. You have way to much to accomplish in just a few months. Don’t waste a minute of learning time. Begin by making anchor charts with your students to outline classroom behavior expectations and any routines you will have in place. This introduces the concept of anchor charts, and gives you some wall decor to start off the year. Day one, I hit the ground running with setting up the interactive science notebook. This is the perfect time to introduce any daily routines and procedures. I like to start everything off with the Nature of Science Unit because it is basic and perfect to introduce the science routines like Science Wall, Daily Science Starters, the Interactive Science Notebook, and labs. Day one is usually setting up the science notebook with the table of contents and going over how to store them each day. The second day is usually when I start the science wall and daily science starters to accompany a lesson on lab safety.