First Days of School

07 Jul

I’ve done pretty much the same thing on the first days of school since I started teaching, so I’m thinking it’s time for a new activity or two. Here’s what I typically do and will likely keep:

-True/False Quiz about me followed by a t-chart of what they learned about me and what they still want to know. This gives them a safe place to ask me questions and gives me a baseline on how they learn verbally

-An activity where they work in groups to define the jobs of students, families, teachers, and administrators. This helps me teach group-work protocol as well as discuss together what everyone’s responsibilities are.

-Cornell notes on the syllabus. This is how I cover the material they need to know and teach them about the Cornell note taking system.

-Birthday “cards”-Students decorate a small card to go on the board during the month of their birthday.

There are a couple of other activities I’ve done through the years, but I don’t think I want to keep them. Since students are kind of fluid the first few days, I don’t want to jump in right away. Maybe a project or something?

What are your favorite first days of school activities?


Posted by on July 7, 2010 in education



5 responses to “First Days of School

  1. Miss Teacha

    July 7, 2010 at 8:33 am

    An EXCELLENT post. Thanks for sharing and giving me NEW ideas. I’ll have to post my own activities for the first days of school. I love the idea of cornell note taking on the syllabus and will do it with my students this fall. You have GREAT ideas. GREAT!!!

    • jalzen

      July 7, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Thanks. I’m sure none of them are my own….maybe the Cornell notes on the syllabus. Other than that, they’ve all been “stolen” from other teachers willing to share in the past. Thanks for sharing your ideas too. I’m looking forward to reading them. Dave, I don’t have enough time in my pacing guide to give two weeks to introductory stuff, so I’ve got to pack it into 2 days. We used to give a pre-assessment that took about a day and a half, but I’m chucking it this year. No one ever did anything with it. David, I’ve done the note cards before as well. I’ve got some, so I may do them again we’ll see. Once I learned their names I didn’t use them very often. I always feel like Popsicle sticks are more random than the cards. For some reason I always seem to call on the same kids when I use the cards. But, if I’ve got the cards, it’s not going to hurt to use them. Maybe I’ll make them on the first days and then when I’ve learned everyone’s name switch over to the sticks.

      • David

        July 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

        We have 8 days of assessment and “flex” stuff built in to our pacing guide. With the amount of students who change classes, it was beneficial that across the department, we perform common assessments, etc. The beginning 8 days are all literature based… so, once we get into the other stories, it’s a much smoother transition.

  2. David

    July 7, 2010 at 8:41 am

    This all happens on the first day of school? That seems like a lot. I have an hour class… I review the syllabus and then give a writing assessment. The next 7 days of school are learning various study skills and other assessments: cornell notes, higher level thinking questions, annotating, reading strategies, learning-style tests, myers-briggs (yes, I’m gonna do that this year), and other odds and ends of classroom protocol.

  3. David Duez

    July 7, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Good post. I think about that first day of school all summer. It is crazy how prepared I am for that ONE day. But, it is super important.

    What I do is pretty simple,
    1. Index card with the answers to questions (favorites) on one side and their name on the other. I use the cards as a random system to call on kids throughout the year (and at the beginning of the year to learn names)
    2. A video that shows my classroom rules. You can check out last year’s video at this link:
    3. I also pass out my syllabus/parent letter that explains what we will be learning. This creates the conversation about why we are in World History and what is important. I love having that talk as we leave on the first day.

    I have also done the True/False quiz for both myself and World History. I eliminated it last year, but may do it again this year on day two. I split most of the first days of school in 1/2. Half of the period (beginning) is getting to know each other and some quick team building. The rest of the period is content (for me that’s Early Man and Early Civ).

    Looking forward to see what you decide to do. Love that you talk cornell notes on day one. Wow. I usually set that up on the first day that we take notes. But, I might incorporate it over our syllabus. Great idea.


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