I cannot quite believe that it is week three already. Time goes fast when you are having fun! My class are settling in. Settling into routines and expectations. Into new friendships and maths groups. I have learned all their names and many of their personalities. To help me to do this quickly and easily I started the year with a simple writing activity.
Firstly we discussed what they would like to know about me. I answered their questions telling them about my dog and my children and that blue is my favourite colour. I then asked them what they thought I should know about them? What would I need to know in order to help them to learn this year? What did they think they needed to tell me. We brainstormed ideas and discussed hobbies, interests, after school activities and more. They then set about writing a piece titled ‘All about me’. Writing an autobiography is a simple and common writing prompt to start the year. And having spent a couple of hours reading them, I can now say that I have a much better picture of my students in my mind. I can see who can write fluently and in depth. Whose writing might lack a little detail or depth. I can see who still needs help with paragraphing or spelling. As well as punctuation and grammar. I can see who finds it hard when the computer inserts a word that is correctly spelled but out of context. This year I have a student with a mother who is a ”regressive’ nurse!
We then took this activity two steps further. Firstly they copied and pasted their writing into wordle and then copied the wordle back into the document, That way when I have been reading them I could also see a wordle of all the major words. Why would I want to do this? Well very quickly I have been able to see who has used words such as ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘also’ or ‘then’ too many times. Since wordle increases the size of words that are repeated. Now not only do I have a written task that I can assess for the usual writing conventions but they too can see if their language usage needs improving.
Finally they also pasted their writing into tagxedo, and using an imported head and shoulders photo I had taken on the first day, we turned them into pictures, using these excellent instructions from my teaching buddy and friend Lois Smethurst. Now we have a written task but an art work as well. The original photos I took were too dark on one side of their faces, so I recommend that if you do this to be careful to keep the light even.
I have had a great start to my year. I hope you have too.