Saturday, August 04, 2007

Any Advice?

I'm going to switch our template (finally) from Old Blogger to New Blogger.

Based on your experience, do you have any suggestions or warnings? Or will it be easy and trauma free?!? (What big change ever is?!?!)

While I'm asking for advice and suggestions...I'm back at the beginning of a loop and thinking about how I will introduce myself and my classroom to a new set of parents and students. Those of you who do that every year (I'm a 2-year looping teacher, so it's every other year for me), what kinds of things do you do to introduce yourself and your classroom before school starts, in the first weeks, and at your Curriculum Night/Parent Information Night?


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  2. (Saw an error so I'm trying this again)

    Mary Lee,

    I'd love to know what others do too. Here are some things I do:

    1. I send out a postcard to all my students a week or so before meeting them. (I created one that has ladybugs all over it as that is my theme.)

    2. The kids come in the first day with their parents in groups of four and I chat with them informally, have them look around the room, and draw name plates for their desk. (This last is a good way for me to covertly watch their interactions so I can better assign their first seating.) We do this because the kids are new to the building (We've a 4-8 middle school and 9-12 high school sharing a building.)

    3. I usually read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day (Seuss, Prelutsky, Lane) as an ice breaker on their first regular day (the one after they come in with their parents). I especially like looking at the information at the end by Janet Schulman on how the book came to be. Kids love finding all their favorite Seuss images in the illustrations.

    4. Have them write letters to themselves (seal them and then open and read them the last day of school.)

    5. At the end of the day I give them cards to write something they will remember from the day for our Time Capsule. Open that up too the last day and it is fun to see who remembers what they wrote.

    6. I start a dialog journal immediately. I give them each a letter and they write one to me. (The journal morphed into the blogs in January this past year and will again this school year.) The journal is great for shy kids especially. And, most of all, they are amazing assessment tools. I can see what they can and can't do as writers, what they read, and a lot more. (I used to give them an adaptation of one of Nanci Atwell's inventories, but find the letter to work just as well if not better. Less overwhelming, for one thing. My letter from years ago is in my Scholastic book btw.

    7. I start a fun group project (to see their interactions) where they have to put labels on as many countries as they can on a huge world map. (One of those felt ones --- I give them blank labels and they write the names on them and stick them up. I group them by continent. The map is then added to all year as we study different places.)

    8. For the first week I have them read whatever they want. During these periods I meet privately with each child to talk about what they wrote in their journal about themselves as learners. I also covertly watch them as they read. I want to see what they read, how long they can read, etc. etc.

    9. Our parent evening is a few weeks after we start. I take photos and do a quick slide show at the end of their kids. They love that!

    10. I write the parents constantly on email. My first email is usually the day I meet them with their kids to reinforce what I said to them in person.

    11. I'm really excited this year to use the class blog from the start. I've got a whole parent section there.

    Thanks for letting me put this here (sort of thinking it all through).

  3. Mary Lee,

    At the parent open house in September, I presented the parents with a Parent Information Book. It contained a number of things: a classroom schedule so they'd know the days when their kids had gym, library, and other special classes; school and classroom policies for tadriness, homework, etc.; a list of the field trips we'd take that year; a description of the different curriculum units I'd teach; a list of children's authors noting the kinds of books they wrote--poetry, picture books, nonfiction, chapter books (mysteries, Ramona series, etc.); lists of recommended books; a poem by Eve Merriam entitled "Thumbprint" about how each child is unique. There were a couple of other things in the book--but I can't remember what they were at the moment.

    I went through the book with the parents, talked about my educational philosophy entertained their questions, and made the point that if they were ever concerned or troubled about something to contact me so we could talk about it. I found that doing this gave the parents a clear understanding of what the school year would be like. It also set us off on the right foot to a productive year. Parents often commented to my principal how much they appreciated this type of presentation at the open house.

  4. As far as switching from old blogger to new ?? I had no problems - it was very smooth!! AND, I like New Blogger much more!!!


  5. Like BeckyB, I also had no trouble with the switch. It went quickly, and I didn't lose anything. But I gained the ability to add more page elements (which I still need to find time to play around with.)

    I love the back to school ideas! I'm in a public library, but I honor and value your work in the schools. You sound like you will be getting your year off to a great start for yourself and the students.

  6. No problem with switching between the two for me either. I believe you are given the option of saving your original template too. I just copied and pasted the html of my original template into MS Word and saved it until I was sure I liked how the new one was working.


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