Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

My Classroom

The First Six Weeks of School

I don't know about you but I'm starting to get the back to school jitters... and I LOVE it!!! The opportunity to make changes to your classroom layout, explore new styles of instruction and put new routines into place keeps things fresh and helps you regain focus. It helps remind you why do we do what we do everyday and how special and unique our profession is. 

Most of us eat, sleep, breath and dream teaching at this time of year. I don't know about you, but this is the time when my brain gets all sorts of crazy! The kind of crazy where you drive past your own house on your way home because you were so lost in planning what your library was going to look like. Yes, I actually did that. *Multitasking is an ALWAYS of course ;).  You write so many lists that your writing on your list to finish writing that list about your new math curriculum that you didn't finish yet. :) We're all guilty in our own way of getting wrapped up in this crazy time of year. 

This year I vowed to myself to spend as much time in my classroom as I did planning the social curriculum that goes into place the first six weeks of school. Which I admit may not always be proportionate. I am so thankful to be in a school district that values establishing the routines and putting practices into place before being expected to start the academic focus. I spend majority of the first week doing classroom community building activities,  read alouds and completing projects/crafts to fill the walls with student work.  I review and model over and over and over again the basic rules/routines for unpacking, bathroom, drink, hallway/specials/lunchroom expectations, packing up ect. My goal for week one is to make the students fall in love with learning... and win their hearts! ;) Hehehe.

As we begin week two, I put more of a schedule into place as far as subject areas. We do "math" during math, and "reader's workshop" during reader's workshop however, the mini lesson's are aimed at routines and expectations rather than content. My favorite mini lesson across all content areas is developing what it looks like, sounds like and feels like during each time of the day. It truly allows the students to paint a picture in their mind of what is expected of them. We post these anchor charts in the classroom for the remainder of the six weeks. After the student's have gotten to know me and my style as well as their classmates, we work together to create a set of classroom rules to post all year long. Then we try to guess everything we will learn and get to do in first grade before thinking of our hopes and dreams.  As a part of Responsive Classroom and the “First Six Weeks of School,” thinking about, discussing and setting “hopes and dreams” fosters a positive classroom community. It also teaches our students to set goals for themselves and engages their interest and enthusiasm for the “wonder” of all that they will accomplish that year.  I have students write and/or illustrate their hopes and dreams, then I hang them in the classroom to be seen and revisited through out the year!

You can find my hopes and dreams pack here.

Week three and four, I focus on teaching the students what they can do with their independence. For example, if you are "done" what is expected of you. In reader's workshop that looks like rereading a book or shopping for a new book. It also allows students to explore the environment around them, such as where we can find the tools, when it's okay to use them and how we use the tools in writer's workshop. I also give students a chance to explore all the math manipulatives as we build our community of learners. It is helpful to conduct math read alouds at this time and use the read alouds to guide your class discussions. Student’s can think about and explore math in the real world to value it’s importance. Students can also explore math tools in the classroom and set the expectations for using them.

I use the printables in this Math Community Building pack to make a class book. You can also do a think, pair, share with student responses and help build expectation anchor charts!

 You can find my math community building pack here.

I integrate the unit of community in social studies at this time of year because I believe it lends itself to all other content areas. I also love starting the year with a Personal Narratives unit in Writer's Workshop because it is a great way for the student's to learn about one another.

Below you can find my curriculum map for the first 4 weeks of school, with teaching points/mini lessons address and personal narrative mentor texts.
This is free editable curriculum map with dates included for August 2015- June 2016. You can find it here and get your planning into place! :)

To assuage my back to school jitters, I try to do as much printing and prepping as possible. There are so many things to organize before the littles arrive. There are teacher lists, data organizers, family letters, parent forms, student surveys and reminders! Last year I remembered running from pile to pile to find what I need. This year I created a resource that includes everything all in one file! I am so excited to finally have it all in one place so that I don't have to spend my time running two and from the copier.... which is actually just across the hall! hahah! But trust me... it still happens.

Below is a sample of a few of the pages from the Back to School Letter & Forms pack. I am a big believer that parent communication is also a key component of the "first six weeks of school." It is important to build that open line of communication for the remainder of the year.

This pack is editable and can be found here

Last year our school was undergoing construction on a new wing addition and many of us weren't able to get into our classroom until the weekend before the first day. Labor day... a holiday weekend I may add. So for the many of you who are unable to get into your classroom, I want to assure you that it will be OKAY! The year went on and we all survived!

Happy back to school! It's the most wonderful time of year! :)


  1. Great post!!!! I love B2S time as welllllll!!!!!!!!! :) I still have a month to go though and my head is spinning toooooo!!! HAHA! I am not even going back into my classroom for at least 2 weeks! Good luck with your school year!

    Teach! Sparkle! Smile!


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