Starting Engaged 

Photo by T Bloch

The start of the school year is so important. Our start sets the tone for the entire school year. Many classrooms I have observed start year with an emphasis on rules and procedures. It is good to lay-out behavior expectations early on in your classroom but is the main goal for the first week of school? Shouldn’t we focus on engaging students? Don’t teachers want to give the message to students that learning in the classroom will be fun? Students should want to go to school for more than just their social contacts.

This year while I set expectations, I had the goal of starting with engagement in my classroom. No seating chart was made, I quickly called roll allowing students to sit in what ever seat they felt comfortable in. Each day of the four day first week after roll call I started class with a ten minute challenge. Students worked as team to complete challenge. I wandered the room watching students work and answered questions during the challenge. I was learning how my student interact, who took charge, who followed the lead and those that just watched others at work. Some groups found success, others experienced First Attempts In Learning (fail). Everyone was learning, especially me. My students we learning how to learn from failures and work as teams. I was learning about my students: how the interact and tackle tasks. Most of all my students were engaged.

The challenges:

Day 1 :

Materials- 1 piece of 8 x 11 paper   Ruler   Scissors   Textbook

Goal: Hold the textbook up one inch above the tables with only the paper supplies.

Day 2:

Materials: Paper, water, and google.

Goal: Make a cup that holds water out of paper:

Day 3:

Materials:  Paper bag, 4 straws, 1 paper cup, 1 piece of construction paper, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of yarn, and a marble.

Goal: Support a marble as high off of the table as you possibly can.

Day 4 – Marshmallow Challenge


My students came into each day excited to tackle the next challenge. After day one when many were upset with not being able to succeed, student realized that failing was not their destination but a necessary stop for some on their learning journey. I feel I have now set an engaged tone to my classroom. Students come excited to learn. As a result of these activities many students have shared that they now love science, At open house every parent shared how their child was talking about what we were doing in the classroom. Hopefully we can maintain this excitement throughout the year,

Photo by T Bloch
Photo by T Bloch

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