Entry 1 – My Sixth First Day

Entry 1 – My Sixth First Day

I’ve begun my sixth year in teaching.  The plan is to reflect at the end of each week again this year.  I’ve invited some of my colleagues to join me and am excited to read through their reflections 🙂

This week was our first week back with students.  Being that many of my students from 6th grade math are now in my 7th grade math class, it felt more like coming back from a long weekend than it did a brand new year.  This week has felt a bit long with having to stay after school for some back-to-school nights & parent meetings, but I feel good about the week.


I typically have students fill out a Google Form in class which is pretty time consuming.  Not to mention, I have to work out a lot of kinks with new 6th graders logging into their emails for the first time.  I decided to go lo-tech and used an ‘about me’ sheet I found on Dan Meyer’s website.  Students got a little bit of time in class to start it and had to finish it for homework.  Of my 50 students, only 3 forgot to bring it.  My homework policy doesn’t usually involve sending an email home when work is missing but I wanted to create an expectation that work should be turned in.  I emailed the students and CC’ed their parents, reminding them to bring the sheet the next day.  They all did.  I plan on reading through them and sending a short email to each student asking a question or commenting about any connections I made in their sheet.


I started a new video series on how I set up my classroom economy.  You can see it here:

Something I haven’t talked about in the videos yet is how I’m going to try and incorporate budgeting and giving in the classroom economy.  For students to budget, they need things to budget for and previously they only spent money on their rent or auctions.  I thought a good starting point for budgeting would be RENT, EMERGENCY FUND, AUCTION, and GIVE.  I thought about having an ’emergency’ possibly happen that’ll cost $200 at some point in the year.  I then wondered how I could have students give fake money in a meaningful way.  I thought maybe we could do like a pledge system where parents match their child’s gift at a 10:1 ratio ($10 classroom economy : $1 real dollar) or something like that.  It could be to the charity of the student’s choice.  But what to do about parents who aren’t able to make a pledge?  Perhaps I could have some sort of crowdfund to get people to donate money that’ll serve as the real money.  The ratio would depend on how much would be donated I guess.  Still thinking through a lot of this.  I plan on using GoodBudget as the students’ budgeting tool.  It’s what I use and it’s pretty simple.


Most semesters for robotics, I’ll have about a month of coding activities and have kids program video games and things of the sort.  The goal is to get them used to programming.  Since we now have a coding elective, I’m doing only about 1-2 weeks of coding and then jumping into the robotics.  Will likely do many of the same projects from last year but am going to try a new one where they have to build a robot and get it to move without wheels.

How was your first week?

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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