I greet students at the door and tell them to find their index card. I have placed it at one of the seats. It is time for them to get to know one another. From the beginning, I want to establish a strong and trustworthy learning community. Typically, I loose a couple of students and gain a couple more due to schedule changes and students enrolling late. If a new student arrives, I give them an index card and tell them to fill it out based on the prompts on the smartboard from the day 2 powerpoint that outlines the activities for the class. I like using powerpoints because they help me pace the class and keep on track.
For many of my students the transition from freshmen to sophomore year offers more challenges than they expect. For many of my students, English has always been their easy core class, the increased workload and change in expectations not only in English but also in their other core classes creates anxiety when mixed with the additional responsibilities they have at home. Many students get their drivers license and a job. Time management becomes one of their most important skills. I want my students to have a positive first impression of the class. They need to embrace the workload and also understand that focused, hard work can also be fun.
The first five minutes of class gives me time to take attendance--I still need to learn most of their names and it gives the students time to write or finish their index cards.
I direct students to self-select a partner. I encourage them to work with someone they do not know or don't know well. Most students are willing to take this risk, however the shy students tend to stick to who they know.
I want the students to take the interviews seriously. It is their first opportunity for small group discussion and public speaking (SL 9-10. 1). I begin by modeling an presentation by introducing my friend Darth Vader. I show them the picture of Darth Vader and I from a 1/2 marathon I ran at Disney World. I am professional in my presentation, however it is still fun. I often use elements of Star Wars as examples in class. Over the years, I have discovered that most of my students love Star Wars. Clips of Star Wars are easy to find on YouTube, so I often use them to make a point about teamwork or rhetoric. If I have a few students who have not watched the movies, they usually watch at least Episode IV A New Hope and V Empire Strikes Back by the end of the year.
I give the students about 10 minutes to conduct their interviews. I have 35 students; the presentations will takes awhile. Some of them have gone to school together since kinder and they like to share. The goal is for the students to introduce their partners and share their goals and interests (SL 9-10. 4 and SL.9-10.6). The introductions create an interesting picture of who my students are and how they see themselves at Tucson High and in the community.
Slide four and five of the PPT deal with technology. I give them some tips on using Edmodo and answer any questions they may have about signing in. Edmodo is an online site that allows teachers to build self-contained class site. I can upload assignments and send reminders/announcements to students. Students can access material from class, turn in assignments, and collaborate with each other (W.9-10.6). Quite a few teachers at Tucson High use Edmodo, so most students have accounts and just need to join the class. I also give the information to the new students.
I have two student computers in my room, so we can resolve most of the issues, but it takes some time because only two students can work at the same time. I tell the students to keep their eyes on the computers, if one becomes free, take it. Hopefully, by the end of class, all the students who need the computer will rotate through the two computers in my room. I also quickly show them the results of the survey on Edmodo from the previous lesson. It is subject to change as students join the class and complete the survey.
Next, I introduce the app called VINE. Vine is a free app they can download on a smartphone or Ipod touch. It allows users to make and view six second videos. I show them a video from VINE. I chose these videos prior to class. One video shows a kid dancing and another video is of a dog chasing a bunny. I ask them to write a quick narrative or story to explain the video (W 9-10. 3). They have three minutes to write. After three minutes I take volunteers to read their stories. I repeat the process with the second video.
I am not looking for brilliant narratives. I want to give them practice thinking and writing on the spot (W.9-10.10). We will write almost every day in class. They will also have to develop their skills in self and peer evaluation. This exercise is an opportunity to practice writing and sharing writing with others. By using the VINEs students are spending their time coming up with writing topics, they have to respond to a stimulus or visual prompt.
Additionally, the first project they will create for my class is a VINE video and accompanying narrative. This is a preview of that project.
I put their homework on Edmodo including the article they have to read. They have to submit the homework to Edmodo. This assignment has dual purposes, it is a pre-reading activity and it allows me to trouble shoot any problems with Edmodo.
If a student does not have access to a computer/internet outside of school, I give them a hard copy of the article and the questions for The Case Against Summer Vacation.