Thursday, August 9, 2012

My first two weeks

It's that time of year where everyone is starting to plan for school.  I have posted about a lot of what I do at the beginning of the year already, but I thought I would share my actual plan for the first few weeks.

I used to have SO much trouble planning for the beginning of the year.  I used to stress out about what to do and when and all that.  Give me a book and a curriculum and I was fine, but without really having a lot of experience this type stuff was hard for me.  I would say it's definitely the kind of thing that just comes with time.  At this point I have aquired tons of things in my "bag of tricks" so to speak so it's just a matter of decided what order I'm going to do them in. 

This is really my "lesson plans" for the first two weeks:

Just jotted down in a notebook is plenty for me because I've done (mostly) everything on here a bunch of times and that all I really need is the order.  Even for things that I've never taught/done before I'm just not the type that needs a detailed plan.  If I made one I wouldn't even use it, I'm definitely more of a wing it type of girl.

So here's the plan:

Day 1: Thursday
  • 31-Derful Game
  • hand out supply list and tell kids they need a notebook by Monday
Day 2: Friday
  • some icebreaker activities
  • start brainstorming Numbers About Me and have kids jot down ideas that I will most likely keep
Day 3: Monday
  • assign seats
  • check that they have a  notebook (count as a HW)
  • set up ISN pages: TOC, WWK, folder and HSPA formula sheet
Day 4: Tuesday
Day 5: Wednesday
  • New [school] Year Resolution activity
    This is a new activity I'm working on that I'm really excited about..will be posting about this sometime soon
Day 6: Thursday
  • Decorate and laminate ISN coversallow students to continue decroating at home if they want and I'll laminate it when they bring it back
  • While they are working, I will be circulating around the room checking their resolutions
Day 7: Friday
Day 8: Tuesday (we have off that Monday)
  • Begin Instruction!

A couple things that worked out nicely:

The first week is only two days and I know they're not going to have supplies so my activities these days are just designed to get back into the school routine and get to know each other and give them a feel for how my classroom works.

The next week we will start actually using their notebooks and doing some work which gives them four days to get supplies which should be sufficient.  There will inevitably be kids without notebooks so I'll just give them one that I have.  I am currently stocking up on them for .25 from Office Depot (limit of 30 for teachers..sweet).

The following week we have Monday off.  I don't really want to start instruction on that Friday or something and then give them a long weekend off so starting instruction on that Tuesday is perfect for me.  At that point they should be comfortable with the ISN since we will have put in numerous pages.  We will have done some activities that require them to think about themselves and the upcoming school year.  I will have some HW grades in my gradebook.  I will have a nice bulletin board of some student work (their resolutions) all ready to go for open house which is that Thursday.


  1. Sarah,
    I am really loving your blog!! From pretty much your blog alone I have started the year using ISNs in my classes for the first time. I can't wait for more posts! Keep up the great work.

    1. That's awesome! I'm so glad to hear that. Good luck and keep in mind that how I do things is far from the only way they can be done :) Make it your own and do what's right for you and it'll go great. I'd love to hear how things go and if there's anything in particular that you have questions on please let me know!

  2. I get it, but you are braver than I am to go 7 days into the school year before "Instruction."

    1. Oh for sure, it's definitely not for everyone. :)

      Of course math is super important to me, but I'm really big on my classroom running a certain way so I just like to take the time to get it going so that I can avoid problems down the road. I think the interactive notebook plays a big part too..without getting very good classroom management established fast it wouldn't work as well for me. I always end up catching up with everyone else eventually too!

  3. Hi Sarah!
    I love your blog and am going to give the ISN a try for my 7th grade CMP2 class. In Seminole County, Florida, we use CMP2 for the Intensive Math class, which is for students who scored below grade level on our state test. Intensive math is their second math class of the day, as they also have a regular math class. I think the ISN is going to help them to be more organized and I think they will look forward to the creativity, too.

    I just want to let you know that in Seminole County, our math instructional plans all include 5 days at the beginning of the year for establishing social, group, and mathematical norms in our classrooms. I completely agree with you that it is time well spent.

    Thanks again for your blog. Since I have never tried doing an ISN before, I really appreciate all your posts and please continue posting your ideas, especially since you have also used CMP2.

    Can you tell me how you deal with the Additional Practice and Skills WS? Do they just keep WS like that in a separate folder? What about graded tests and quizzes?


    1. That's cool to hear that your school sets aside time for back to school type stuff..I think it's important to get the year running well.

      As for CMP2...that is the entire reason I started the ISN! It goes SO perfect with it. CMP lacks in notes and formal procedures and there's no where for the kids to find a "how-to" on anything. I had them keep a three ring binder (or just a section in another binder) and all of the investigations and worksheets went in there. That got emptied every book. Tests and quizzes also were kept there or taken home and we just kept a record of grades in the back of their ISN.

      The ISN was just for the rules and procedures that CMP was missing. We would do a couple days of investigations and then sum up the main idea with an ISN page. My kids got frustrated with doing investigation after investigation so breaking it up with the ISN every few days was definitely great.

      Most important though was really that it gave them something to refer back to, even after we were done with the unit and had switched books. If you do it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it goes!

  4. Just curious what you include on your supply list. I always hand out a supply list and very few of my students (from low socioeconomic backgrounds) actually bring anything in, so I usually end up buying everything myself. It got me thinking, maybe I am putting too much on the list?

    I am also curious.... what is your experience using the ISNs with students with disabilities? I am an intervention specialist at the high school level and I really want to use ISNs in my resource room geometry class this year, but I am a bit nervous as to how my kiddos are going to react to them.

    By the way, I LOVE your blog!! :)

    1. Thanks!

      At the moment my supply list is
      • three ring binder (or a section in a shared binder)
      • Loose-leaf paper
      • Composition notebook
      • 6 rolls of scotch tape
      • pencils

      Things like crayons, highlighters, and things like that I provide. I have a bunch of composition notebooks I've stocked up on so I'll just give them to the kids that don't come with the book. Same thing for tape..I hope that they'll bring it, but I'm just grateful for whatever I do get.

      With students with disabilities I've found that you just need to model things more carefully and sometimes you might want to hand out things like foldables already folded or with some information filled in to help them out. I would give it a try and see how it goes. It all depends on your kids so you'll figure out what they need specifically but I think that they are certainly capable.

  5. Wow! I learned so much reading through this post. It gave me a lot of insight as to how to start using Interactive Notebooks in my classroom. I think I am ready. THANKS!

  6. I cant seem to download your assessments. Is there somewhere else to get them?

    1. I think you are referring to the learning style and multiple intelligence assessments? The links here just take you to the posts about them, the links are on the bottom of those pages. They take you to the documents on Scribd.

  7. Did you ever do the New [School] Year resolutions? I couldn't find a post with that activity.

  8. I was also wanting to know more about the New School year resolution activity.

  9. I love your blog! Thanks for taking the time to share your plans and ideas. I'm definitely trying the 31-derful idea and plan to find a STEM challenge for my science classes. I'm wondering, as it seems a few others did, if you did the New (School) Year Resolution activity mentioned here. How'd it go and what did it look like?

    Thanks again for your blog! I noticed your last post was last year. I hope you're okay and able to get back to writing. Your sharing definitely enhances many classrooms.


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