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    first days of school
    By Katy

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    Julie,
    A 5th grade teacher at my school does an activity that I think is great and could be possible for 2nd. She makes silhouettes of students heads, they cut them out and then cut out pictures and words from magazines to fill them in with and the pictures and words represent who they think they are. She then mounts them and keeps them as a border around the room (up high)so they can reflect on them at the end of the year. You could also have them use mirrors and people color markers to make self-portraits, frame them and have them write goals around the frame. At back to school night, I've had parents at the end try to guess which self-portrait they think their child made and then they need to make their own self-portrait and the children try to guess the next day. This reminds the parents what it's like to learn by having to do something with others around you doing the same activity and the kids love it.
    I also read a lot of stories the first week and teach the kids who don't know already about making text-to-self connections. After reading and discussing a book, I'll ask them to write about a connection they had. This helps me assess reading comprehension, basic writing skills, and get to see their personality a bit by the type of response they write.
    For those students who aren't big into reading and writing, it's really great to teach some fun math games. Teach a different game each day and have everybody playing at the same time. At the end of the week, put out all the games and let children choose partners and choose which game they want to play. You could ask a First grade teacher for an end of First grade math game that was successful and fun to have as one game they already know and feel comfortable with.
    Lastly, our district has a ton of curriculum to cover and I find that if I spend too much time doing beginning of the year activities, I fall behind schedule and stress at the end of the year. So I would recommend diving into the core curriculum the very first week. Science or Social studies units are really fun for most children so I try to do a lesson almost every day the first week before going to our usual 2-3 times a week. Any art projects are always a big hit. I try to do enough things that by the end of the week children have a few things to take home and we have a few things hanging in our classroom to make it feel like the students' classroom.
    Hope some of that helps. I think you'll love Second. I do!


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