Now, as a teacher, I do much the same thing, but it's for different reasons.
Teacher Institute days aren't just days for us to come to school in our casual clothes and reorganize the paper trays - these are days spent collaborating with peers, working with administrators, and implementing new strategies to keep our material fresh and interesting. These days can be EXHAUSTING, and if nothing else, they serve as a reminder to ME what it must be like for the students on a daily basis: we ask them to sit still, be quiet, listen attentively, not pass notes, and learn everything we present to them.
Some of the stuff we do in ELA and Social Studies class may seem unconventional - why is Mrs. Yeagle sending home a vocabulary worksheet with ridiculous sentences about man-eating bunnies and garish prom dresses? Why is my kid creating a crazy, non-applicable law that all of his classmates have to follow? And where did that Yeagle-slavia national anthem come from?!
When I was finishing up my Master's degree, I did an action research project on vocabulary instruction. This was something that I felt desperately needed refreshed in my classroom, and my research did not disappoint; I read articles about the importance of humor in instruction, how connecting new words to words the kids already know and use is essential, how continually using the vocabulary words is crucial to student retention....
This research changed my instructional strategies, and not just for vocabulary. It gave me permission to do what I had been doing all along: make school silly, fun, creative, AND informative all at the same time. It encouraged me to begin each class with a mini-review of essential details from the previous day (or week!), and it paved the way for a lot of the units and instructional methods that I use now. Plus it meant that we could play games - LOTS of games! - all the time. Vocab games, review games, matching games, race games.... SO. MANY. GAMES.
So, I guess I'll apologize for the crazy antics. (#sorrynotsorry) I know it's not what people are used to, and it may feel a little strange. But I figure if I can make your kids happy to come to school - and keep ME happy to come to school - then we are all winning in the end, right?
And speaking of games, we'll be playing a game this week in preparation for the BIG social studies test! Tuesday will be review day, and Wednesday will be devoted to the BIG (and I'm not being even a little sarcastic here) test. I sent study guides home on Wednesday (10-4), but I have noticed that several are still hanging out in the classroom.....so I'm attaching a digital copy of the review guide here. If you student works on reviewing for the test and you sign their paper to prove that they studied, they will earn extra credit!
Your students have no homework for the weekend (thanks, evacuation drill!), but you should ask them about the setting paragraphs we wrote and shared this week. We've been working on sensory details and using them to enhance a reader's image of setting and location - some of them wrote some really creative and detailed paragraphs about their settings!
Looking ahead, we will start a pretty hefty Greek gods research project next week in preparation for our novel study of The Lightning Thief. Math will find the kids using more operations with decimals and then looking into the connection between decimals, percentages, and fractions. They've been working on a molecule research project in science class and will present them on Wednesday. In ELA class, we'll keep on doing vocab, writing, and skill application so we can gear up for our novel study, which we will start on October 16.
Enjoy your long weekend everyone! As for me....I'm off to Teacher Institute Day!!!