Students are instructed to come in and get prepared. This is posted on the board when they enter the classroom. They need to take out their homework (due today) and find all materials. Once this is completed, I begin homework check-in.
I walk around to every student and scan their homework. While I am doing this, they are silently reading at their seat. I may interrupt them to ask a question. For example, I may ask them to add description to their summaries, or to back up their "my thinking" with reasoning or a "because."
The first day the logs are due, I'll often have kids with missing work. This is common in sixth grade, because accountability and letter grades are a new concept for many. The reason I go around to each and every student is because I want that face to face time. I want them to look me in the eye and tell me that they don't have their homework. Often, we'll have a conversation about why its no longer acceptable for them to be missing work. I explain that their grades will be effected by their choices. During the first week of reading logs, I usually give a grace period, and explain that starting the following week they'll need to have their work in on time, or they will be marked down in the grade book.
I also look for high quality work samples! I will use these as resources and pass them out to everyone in the class.
I start with a clip:
I only watch the first five minutes of this Ted Talk. After we watch it, I pause and ask the students about what they now understand surrounding positive psychology. Kids start to piece the definition together based on the Ted Talk. We come to a consensus that it has something to do with framing. If you frame something in a positive light, you can take any bad experience and make it positive.
I start by explaining that today, we'll be making a t-chart with two separate lists, one for positive writing experiences and one for negative. On one side, I start coming up with all the things I like to write, creative entries, letters, birthday cards, in my journal. On the other side I come up with negatives, things I don't like to write: balancing my checkbook, work emails, writing assignments when I don't have any good ideas. I let the kids start their own lists. I always say, take any of my ideas, if they apply to you.
Kids continue to write their own lists.
After about five minutes of writing, I let them turn and talk at their tables. I ask that they share out two or three types of writing, either positive or negative. I point out students who are updating their lists as they talk to one another. I'll say something like, "I love how _________________ is taking ideas from other students." It shows the class that these lists are works in progress. I will also continue to update my list as I hear kids talking to one another, modeling this strategy.
Then we come back as a group and we talk about the kids share out some to the entire group. I always start with the positives!
At the end of class, I read aloud from our class read aloud. During the first few weeks of school, I typically don't do active read alouds, ie having them have a task while I'm reading. I just want them to listen and enjoy great literature. Again, the purpose is to get excited about books.