Day 2: The One with the School Values Posters


A week before school starts, we send out an all-staff email requesting magazines to make posters with. Because: Orientation. Because: School Values.

Following yesterday’s stop-and-go (which, ultimately, I think was successful), I’m ready for some meatier activities. We read about school values in the classroom (using some group structures, though reading is relatively groupworthy in and of itself for emerging bilinguals) and then make posters. Which is pretty amazing. Kiddos find photos, critique whether they are examples of the school values or not and then explain why (because I like to make kiddos explain things). Fascinating to see some of our 10th graders, who were initially much quieter, begin to step up.

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One of my more favorite posters (protesting for Pluto is creating change, hunting fish is not):

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Scaffolds for the class counting to 10 (if 2 kiddos speak at the same time, they have to start over):

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Notes which I am attempting to use to highlight the many ways that the kiddos are smart:

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Day 1: The One With the School Values Drawings


First day. We spend the first 2 days of 9/10 classes doing orientation, which makes sense for newcomers. By some stroke of luck, I’ve spent the last 3 years teaching the school values session, where we learn about our school’s 4 school values:

  • Act With Empathy
  • Create Change
  • Challenge Yourself
  • Learn Together

(True story, I often find myself having conversations with real live adults about how “you just need to challenge yourself more” or “maybe if we just acted with empathy…” Needless to say, I’m not much fun at cocktail parties)

At any rate, we make small tweaks to this lesson every year. Over time, we’ve added videos (the kiddos love the penguins) as well as a values sort (which always makes me a bit squeamish to talk about) and a chance for the kiddos to draw what they’re thinking about.

This year’s lesson feels a bit choppy. I have to call the kiddos to attention a lot in the lesson (we watch a video, we draw, then we watch another video, then we draw…) and I’m using a chime to call them to attention, so it feels like a lot of stop and go.

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

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Days 1, 2, 3 and 4: The One with the School Values, String Shapes, Patterns and the Selfish Shellfish Selfie

Survived Day One. Survived Days One through Four, in fact.

Photo One: Values (Day One)

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Since almost all of our students are newcomers, we spend the first two days of school in orientation, where teachers lead sessions on topics that help our students be successful in school. In talking to other teachers, I am thankful that our school values and takes the time to do this. One of the activities I taught in my class (on our four school values) involved sorting words into “good” and “bad” categories. Admittedly, “good” and “bad” are super polar (as some of our kiddos pointed out), but it’s a start. 

It´s interesting to see which words are tricky for our kiddos and why. Almost every class asked what “liar” and “caring” meant, but understood as soon as they heard them pronounced. Kiddos at various points thought “selfish” was “a type of fish” and “when you take a photo of yourself”. At any rate, they were generally able to make sense of what the words meant. 

Photo #2: School Values Posters (Day 2)

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Having talked about good and bad values, we transitioned into our four school values. The kiddos cut out photos from magazines that they thought represented (or didn’t represent) each school value. Note: I had first period draw their pictures. Giving them magazines was probably a better idea. They were super thoughtful about the pictures they found.

Photo #3: The String Shapes (Day 3)

Students making string shapes

Yesterday was the first “official” day of content. To reenforce groupwork norms, we had students work together to make 2D and 3D shapes out of string. It’s more challenging than it seems. It was interesting to see that groups that talked together while they were building tended to build more shapes. Success rate of groups that tried to plan out shapes before actually touching the string was mixed. Side note: students were very into having photos of the finished project taken. Perhaps a future motivational tool? I wish I’d gotten more photos of the process…(except for that whole “teaching thing”)

Photo #4: The Patterns (Day 4)

Students show how figures in a pattern change

In moving towards our first unit on linear relationships, we’re asking the kiddos to look at patterns (many teachers and the CPM curriculum refer to them as “pile patterns”, though this extra language is probably a bit much for our crowd) and then show the pattern, using colors, words, numbers and arrows. Note: I chose quite a few of these photos to showcase growth, either in students from last year or from students who were ready to give up at the beginning of class but with a little (lot?) of coaxing, were able to make progress. Not that you could really tell without knowing the students, but…

Photo #5: The Dot Talk(s) (Day 3)

Dot talks

One of the members of our teaching team has experience giving number talks, a strategy designed by Jo Boaler to develop number sense by asking students to think in many ways about seemingly easy problems involving basic computations or drawings that can be pulled apart and thought about in many ways. This was the first time that most of us gave a dot talk in front of students (I theoretically did this in grad school, which is a hazy shade of two summers ago). Students were able to share the different ways they saw dots in a picture. Lots of room for growth when we continue next week, though.

Photo #6: The Selfish Shellfish Selfie (Day 2)

When I wrote "selfie" on the board

Evidence that, in building language skills, we did talk about selfish versus shellfish versus selfie (and penguins, which were in one of the videos we watched). I just had to share (…because to do otherwise would be shellfish).