The First Day of School

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%

Professional Learning: Optional Homework

We go back to school in less than two weeks and will have to make decisions about grading as we write our syllabi. If you ask 5 people their thoughts about homework, you’ll likely get 5 different ideas. In my reading this morning, I came across this blog post, and although I need to spend some time thinking about it, I am intrigued.

What do you think?

Blog Post on Optional Homework