Two weeks and the students will be walking through the doors of the school, down the hall, and into my classroom. I have some work to get done before I am ready, but I have started working on my welcome letter and syllabi.
Since I believe that relationships are a key part of a successful classroom, I start the year by giving my students a letter about me and ask them to write me a letter about themselves. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, students want to know a little bit about their teachers, and my letter provides them with information about me while also allowing me to emphasize a couple of key ideas. Second, by asking the students to write me a letter, I am able to get an informal baseline writing piece. I can see their strengths and weaknesses as writers and can use this information to guide instruction. Finally, the letter allows us to make some connections. Maybe they are a fan of Georgia football or Vera Bradley. By sharing these interests early in the year, we are able to start building a strong relationships which enhance the classroom environment from the beginning. Here is the draft of my Back to School Letter–Draft
Last year, I started batting around the idea of changing how I set up my grade book because I found myself forcing assignments to fit into categories to keep things balanced when I had four categories. This year, I hope to have three categories for assignments.
Here is what I am thinking.
Level 1–practice assignments–completion grades/homework. 10%
Level 2–formative assessments–quizzes/graded assignments/minor writing assignments. 40%
Level 3–summative assessments–test/projects/major writing assignments. 50%