The first week of school is considered by many to be a “bust.” Buses arrive late, student schedules are changing daily, kids can’t find their classrooms, homeroom is extended to discuss rules and regulations, dismissal is a mess… you name it! In order to start your school year off successfully, especially in science, consider these FIVE tips for survival and productivity during the first week of class.

PictureBREAK THE ICE: Have a few ice breaker activities to get to know your students, allow them to get to know each other, and provide opportunities for socialization. Most students are anxious and these activities can ease the tension and give them a chance to discuss their summer and what they’re looking forward to for the year. These activities can also provide team building opportunities so students feel more comfortable working together in groups during class activities, labs, and projects. We have a blog post about some activities you can use in your classroom HERE.

PictureIT’S LOGICAL: It is absolutely imperative to discuss your classroom logistics. Don’t expect students to walk in the first day of class and understand your protocol for sharpening pencils or using the restroom. Tell them your expectations and chances are they will follow them. Don’t have any expectations? Get some, QUICK! Never start the first day without a plan for making class run smoothly. A great way to get students acquainted with your classroom is to send them on a quick scavenger hunt. They can check off items on the list as they roam around your room, get familiar with the layout, and learn where to find things, like your research library, fire extinguisher, lab or INB supply area, or your eye wash.

PictureINTERACTIVE NOTEBOOK SETUP: Want to start the year off running full speed ahead? Take the first day to also set up student’s Interactive Notebooks (or binders). Give students easy to use directions for creating a unique cover page and author page, and for setting up a table of contents and numbering their pages. Then, go over necessities such as your syllabus and expectations, have students glue them into their INB’s and send them home.  Students can’t make any excuses for losing important papers in the shuffle as everything is already glued into their INB. In order to make sure you have everything you need to implement this, purchase composition notebooks in advance. Many students will already have a composition notebook or two in their backpack on day one, but if not, you can provide them with one of yours.  You can usually find them for $0.25-0.50 each and students can “repay” you with a composition notebook once they get their supplies, thus replenishing your stash for new students and even for next year! You can read more about how we set up our INBs on the first week of school in a blog post we wrote HERE.

PictureSAFETY FIRST: In all science classes, labs and hands-on activities are the main focus. They are fun and prove to be exciting times for students as they explore various topics and get to be more social with one another. However, they can also be times in which safety needs to be everyone’s primary concern. Go over your lab rules, discussing proper behavior, improper behavior, consequences, safety procedures and anything else that deals with working in a lab setting. We have a blog post dedicated to lab safety and you can find it HERE.

5 tinyRETEACH: Now is a great time to jump right into the scientific method. Summer usually means a slump in learning for most students and most of last year’s knowledge has slowly slipped out of their growing minds. Freshen them up with a review of the steps of the scientific method and the types of variables used in experimentation, the scientific process of how a hypothesis becomes a theory and then a law, proper guidelines for measuring and how to convert from one unit to the next, and the proper usage of lab equipment found in your room. For some it may take one to two weeks of review, for others just a few days, but when you get started on your first lab and students begin collecting data, they’ll better understand the hows and whys of science class with a brief refresher course. We’ve got a comprehensive SCIENTIFIC METHOD BUNDLE that you can purchase and it includes everything mentioned above.

Here’s to a great first week of school. It’s gonna be an awesome year!

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