The First Week of School

It’s an unusual September this year: We have a local agricultural festival taking away a Friday, the two major Jewish holidays fall on weekdays this year (and my school chooses to close school for both of them), and we also have Labor Day. Then there are other days of school that we lose for various professional and social commitments, as well.  What with one thing and another, we don’t really have a full week of school until much later in the school year. As a result, the three days my school was in session last week, were effectively the first week of school.

What did you teach your first week?

I’m looking back on my first week, and I’m pretty pleased with what I taught in my lessons taught across five different classes:

In my two Latin classes I taught:

  • How to pronounce Latin words;
  • How to study and memorize vocabulary;
  • How to study vocabulary with someone else;
  • How to take notes in a language class effectively;
  • How to use a foreign-language dictionary;
  • How (we think) human memory works.

In my two History classes I taught:

  • How to ask a teacher or adult for help;
  • how to take notes in a history class;
  • how to write an effective summary sentence;
  • How to create and use timelines;
  • nine types or categories of historical event;
  • the arrival of human beings in North America (both some official and ‘unofficial’ reasons, Gordon).

In my Scratch class just posted yesterday, I taught:

  • How to use control-type commands
  • How to use pen-type commands
  • How to use motion type commands
  • how to make a square appear on your screen.

Given that some of these classes only met twice, and one met only once, it was a heavy week of learning for everyone.  I felt like I got a lot of good teaching done, and I feel like my classes learned a lot from the three days they were in school. They also got to do some socializing, as well, so from their perspective it was a great return to school.

But I think that I should try to keep myself honest for a while, and make a list of what I taught during the previous week, and post about it. It surprises me how often what I teach has to get as specific as making flash cards or teaching kids to memorize things, or how to take notes, or how to set up a notebook.  It especially surprises me when I get to do THAT, and talk about Clovis-style spearpoints in the same class.  But I don’t think most people have much idea how specific we have to get, sometimes, in our classrooms, and maybe peeling back the curtains a bit will help.

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