1st Days of School Secret Sauce #1

Secret Sauce #1

The first few days of school. A key time to get to know the students and lay the foundation for your class. Many teachers establish the guidelines going through rules. Some give their pre-tests. I strive to engage the students in ‘science’! My goal is to clearly demonstrate why what I ask them to do is essential for our class to run smoothly. I call this my ‘secret sauce for success’ during the remainder of the year.

The first day I randomly place students in groups. I have a very large box on the front table that contains a rather complex molecule. I outline who the groups are. The groups can:

-send one person for the first 15 seconds of a minute up to the table to look in the box. ONLY one person

-if two people leave their chairs the group forfeits that minute

-a group member may only speak to the group when their butt is in the chair

-remember–rule 1=to learn; rule 2=help others learn

The groups have 6 minutes accurate draw the creation that is located in a large box. Once posting these rules I very quickly say go and place a timer up on the board.

Usually chaos ensues for the next minute until someone in the group determines a plan. This helps me, as the teacher, learn who the alpha dogs are which will guide my groupings. I gain a sense of how students work with other students and what the student perceptions of the other students are. My knowledge of the students is key to future success.

After the six minutes we compare drawings. Groups come up with a list of what could have helped make this go more smoothly. These lists, a key component of the ‘secret sauce’ usually contain information that leads to the discussion of group roles. We discuss working in groups that are not functional. How to be proactive in resolving the issues that arise. Sometimes I move to look at of the implementation of the roles using videos, sometimes not.

By the end of the class the students can state why I assign them group roles in activities. They can outline why it is important to carry out the function of their role. They can even give tips for correcting malfunctioning roles. Demonstrating the purpose behind what I’m doing and giving students the autonomy to carry out corrective action generates a culture of ownership, motivation as we do class activities, and is but shouldn’t be just my ‘secret sauce’.

Stay tuned for Secret Sauce Part 2, tomorrow

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