This is the Way We Start Each Day (&#3: A Surprising “Assessment Tool”)

… & so, if you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that this is the way we start our day in Grade 5A:

1st: Our Brain Breakfast:
First thing every day I show a “cool video” on the Smartboard.
These videos are not necessarily “curriculum related”, but they are all educational in their own way, are entertaining and most often help us to start off on the right foot!
For example, these videos may be science related
(currently, my fav. site is: http://www.symphonyofscience.com/), or they may be pictures of cool graffiti (http://weburbanist.com/2008/11/29/architecture-optical-illusions/),
or even articles about and clips of baby zoo animals (http://www.zooborns.com/).school_kids_group

2nd: What’s In Store for Us this Day:
Now that I have everyone’s attention (e.g. see Brain Breakfasts), I outline the day clearly and carefully – taking care to answer any questions and allow for processing time.
Just like their teacher, my students are better able to navigate their way through the day when “there are no surprises”.
(I even go so far as to tell them what they will be writing about in the afternoon, for example, giving them time to their process ideas (whether they realize that they are doing just that or not ;-).)

3rd Riddles & Brain Teasers :
I post a riddle and leave it up until someone is able to answer it.
(I never leave a riddle up for more than a week.)
Some good sites for this include:
http://www.funology.com/riddles/
http://www.funenglishgames.com/funstuff/funnyriddles.html
http://www.azkidsnet.com/brainteasers.htm

Last week, for example, the riddle was:

Q: “What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?”
A: “The letter M.”

I originally began to post riddles in order to introduce yet an another activity that encourages “flexible thinking”.
(The truth of the matter being that riddles and brain teasers are simply good fun as well!)
What has surprised me the most however, is that this “activity” has proven to be a surprisingly informative additional assessment tool!
“Sam” for example, is usually one of he first to answer our riddles. In doing so, not only is she “shining” and having fun, but she is showing us that she is a creative, clever, flexible, playful thinker. I know beyond a doubt, that she possesses excellent reasoning abilities and is a a true risk taker.
In playing with riddles we come toegther as a class to model and practice all of the above skills as well. We always take a moment to share with others our problem solving methods and thinking processes.
We just love it!Student_clipart
How do you start your day?

Cheers,
Ally

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8 responses to “This is the Way We Start Each Day (&#3: A Surprising “Assessment Tool”)

  1. You have captured the very morning I wish my own children could have! Love it. You know just how to engage and push the students at the same time!

    Thank you for the links…I am now adding to next week’s lessons!

  2. Well, we don’t start our day anywhere near as cooly as you do! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions!

    Shannon
    http://www.irunreadteach.wordpress.com

    • Hi Shannon,
      I only began starting classes in this way this school year. I really notice a difference in the way in which we transition into our core subjects 😉 My students really are eager to sit on the carpet in front of the Smartboard every morning for our Brain Breakfast!They have even started to come in with suggested videos clips and sites.
      Cheers,
      Ally

  3. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs | doug --- off the record

  4. Ally, thanks for sharing how you start your day! I also go through the day with my students right away. It really helps them know what to expect. I have the schedule up on the board as well, and many students refer to it often.

    I always have some instructions on the board when students come in. They do their agenda right away, and they get ready for our Writing Activity or Genius Hour/guided reading. I find this helps the students quickly get thinking, collaborating, and learning.

    I really like your riddle idea as well. A Grade 4 teacher at my school does this every day, and I always enjoy going into his room and trying to figure out the riddle. I think that I may need to give this a try. Thanks! 🙂

    Your “brain breakfast” idea is also a great one! I’m sure that I could find short videos that link to what we’re learning in class and get students thinking. I know that you said yours are not always connected to curriculum (and I have mixed feelings about doing this), but getting students thinking is definitely important (and this I love)!

    Thanks for the good ideas, Ally!
    Aviva
    http://www.weinspirefutures.com

  5. What a wonderful up-beat way to start each day. I know how I’ll be starting each day… on this site! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful ideas and creativity.

  6. I’m looking forward to trying this 🙂 x

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