Getting Ready for First Day: Activity Inventory

Goodbye Envelope 2011
I hate to admit it but I had been back to my classroom only once all summer. Mostly, it was due to logistics — I spend the summer  as main caretaker of my boys and they drive me crazy when I bring them to my classroom. But also, I needed a break from the space itself. Our classroom becomes our home (if you are lucky to have your own classroom) and removing myself from the space is another part of rejuvenation.

Last night, in a fit of stress that I head back to school for Professional Development today and that our students come back on Thursday, I finally headed back to my classroom. The school was mostly deserted (my math colleague was also in his room, so we chatted about vacations, families, Irene and paperwork, and The Game of Thrones) and I tried to be very efficient with my time. Still, I was there for more than two hours and am not yet done.

Here’s what I did:

  • Dug my Mac laptop out of the closet and hooked it up to my Promethean Board. I had a hard time finding my speakers, but I found them and cranked out some Ben Folds (I came to a new appreciation for the song, Rocking the Suburbs). If anyone was knocking on the door, I didn’t hear them. They sure heard me, though.
  • I booted up my desktop PC. It’s chugging these days. Ran updates. So slow…..
  • I moved desks around in a way that I like for the first few days — very traditional: rows.
  • I flipped my calendars from June to September, as if the summer were missing months.
  • I removed all of the old names (so sad) from last year’s class from our mailbox holder and added this year’s names (excited) to it. I hate this job. It seems so simple and yet always takes me longer than I want, and I have little patience for it. Odd, I know.
  • I began to wipe down desks, which were clean when I left but now have crumbs from summer school (my classroom is the main summer school classroom).
  • I took down various “goodbye” signs from the back wall of my classroom. These were made by last year’s students. It was nice to see them. I could not yet pull down the colorful poster (see above) that indicates my room number. Two wonderful girls made it for me over a few weeks time, huddled quietly in the corner. It’s a nice reminder of last year’s class.
  • I pulled out the bound student planners we got at the end of June and made a pile. They look pretty good. We’re all about organization in sixth grade so student planners become a lifeline for many students.
  • I visited my file entitled “First Day Activities” on the PC, and tweaked it a bit before printing it out. This year, instead of bringing my homeroom on Pivot stickfigure, I am bringing them into our Bitstrips Webcomic site to create avatars. A little change of pace … The rest stays mostly the same: icebreaking activities, etc.
  • I used our Google Calendar to sign out the Mac Cart for the first day of school.
  • I opened up our electronic gradebook and started to create a class, when I realized that maybe one of my colleagues had already done that (and I could just import). Bingo! My science colleague beat me to the punch. I imported all that she had done and was finished in minutes.
  • I printed out the class lists for my four classes (about 80 students) and began assigning lockers to my homeroom students.
  • I finished updating our class weblog — The Electronic Pencil — and our online homework site to reflect the new year. I weed out some posts from the previous year but also keep a few as teasers for the year ahead.
  • I scrambled around to find the packet of new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (which are our new version of the Common Core standards) because I know we are spending much of the day today working the start of curriculum revisioning for our district. Phew. I found it, and began thumbing through it again. I have some ideas for how to make changes to my curriculum. Still pondering it …..
  • I shut off the lights and headed home.

Peace (in the prep work),


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