Friday, August 12, 2011

The Third Day of School

On the third day...there was curriculum!

On the third day the first thing I plan to do is to fill out my "Class Deck".  I have every student make me an index card into a sports card.  They put their stats on it - what type of learner, how good at directions they were, and the number of labels on their map.  I don't torture them and make them draw themselves though, lol.   Facts about themselves, goals for the future, etc will go on the cards.  This usually takes about 10-15 minutes to get underway - but I want to add one more thing to their cards: height in cm and to do that...

*drumroll please*

Unit One: The Tools of the Earth Scientist! (catchy, I know)
First real lesson of the year.

Hopefully everyone has suppplies by now - especially the notebook.

I get to walk students through the daily game - come in, get out notebook, write down daily journal question, wait for lesson...I always feel like a prick doing these kinds of speeches.

First set of FITB (fill in the blank) notes of the year go out along with the unit organizer.  Kid'll groan.  Whatever.

My first real lesson is on the metric system and why it's baller.

  • A brief history of ancient measurements and how they'd be confusing.
  • How the metric and english systems came about
  • why we use metrics
  • Length, volume, mass
  • Types of equipment we use to measure these 3
  • How to measure in metric - volume and mass (skip for today)
  • How to measure in metric - distance
  • How to read the METER stick.  39ish" != 36"  
    • Most of my students are 14-16.  Over half cannot do this skill the first day.
  • Take some measurements of each other's ancient units "span, hand, etc"
    • I got a little worksheet where they can record this if they want to keep it.
    • Usually by now the first meter stick lightsaber fights have started and I have to sit the whole class down and re-discuss lab safety and how much of a d*** I plan on being about it.
  • [edit] To conclude and "exit slip" out of the lesson I have students fill out a one page 8x11 summary page for their note&journal checks.  I'll have to explain that they must somehow address every Bubble on the page.  For example, in the first unit I'm going over the 3 topics in the picture below.  
    • The Summary Page will look the same except each will have it's own page with more detail bubbles for each.

End of the period should be rolling around.  One last thing:  fill out height on the class deck cards and turn them in!  

With any leftover time in the period I have a bucket full of wood blocks of various sizes that I let the kids practice taking measurements on.  Which is a good idea.  Because the test has a hands on portion.  And some kids always bomb it.  Hope you have a good third day in EARTH SCIENCE.

Sidebar: Assessing Class Participation (aka - DO I GET POINTS FOR FILLING IN THESE NOTES!?!?)
I used to collect packets, grade practice worksheets,give points for notes and reviews completed, ugg.  too much time.  Kids cared about their points on the worksheet more than listening and learning the skill I wanted them to.  MY CLASS IS NOT A VIDEO GAME YOU NEED POINTS IN.  LEARN SOMETHING. (That's a rant for midterms)

I think this year I'm going to have my kids hand 2 things for class points - the daily journals we do, and note summary pages.
Daily Journals:  Every day I have a "question of the day", "warmup", "Class starter", "Bell ringer" etc...they told me I should do this in college.  My school likes the idea of the 2 minute "do it as everyone is getting settled" activity.  I expand on mine and make it a bit longer.  Every day the kids have some type of journal to do.  It's usually a "what do you know, before I tell you what you'll need to know" type of question, or something that makes them access prior knowledge.  Sometimes it's a football question.  Who cares?  I'll throw an arbitrary 5pts/journal entry and 10 points for summary pages.

Summary Pages:  I'm trying something new with note taking this year.  In the past I've had my powerpoints and my fill in the blank notes as ...well basically mandated now a days.  Kids need fill in the blank notes to understand a powerpoint I guess.  I'm going to keep the fill in the blank notes but at the end of every lecture the students will be assigned to write a summary page for that day's topic.  I want them to fill a page with notes, pictures, diagrams - whatever they thought was important and how they can relate to it.  I expect most kids to just ask me what they should be writing and whine for me to tell them what to put so they can go another 10 minutes without having to think in the morning.

So at the end of every unit my students should have ~10 (2 weeks worth usually) journal entrys and 3-5 summary pages in their notebooks.  About 100 points of "pay attention, write this down" time per unit.  I collect notebooks before the test.  I think they'll hate it.  It's going to be awesome.


  1. Interesting info!

  2. "I think they'll hate it. It's going to be awesome."
    You're such a devious teacher. I should have tried to become a teacher just so I could troll kids..

  3. Wish America would just go with metric, it took me so long to learn the measurements when i first moved here.

  4. I use to take earth science! Never bothered to re-read the notes I had to take!

  5. I start up school again in a few weeks, I'm taking on a new major :). good luck!

  6. In europe we use the metric system by default.

  7. "My first real lesson is on the metric system and why it's baller." Why can't you be my teacher? :'(

  8. I think this sounds like a good class. Sounds like something my teachers did back in the day

  9. and i really can't understand why you guys in USA are not into the metric system...

    anyway, +following and supporting! ;)

  10. I like your class deck idea, you sound like a cool teacher