FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL
some activities you can do with students on the first day back to
school. Some are fun, some are valuable as learning tools, and
some are both.
This is something that often gets
overlooked. Although the students know your name, they do
not know you. Let them know some things about you. Let
them know where your grew up, where you went to school,
your teaching background and how long you have been
teaching. (Unless it is your first year. I have
discovered that middle schoolers love to torment first
year teachers. Do not lie about being new, but do not
tell them unless they ask. My teaching partner counted
student teaching as her first year so you she would not
have to tell them it was her fist year.) Do not forget to
tell them about your family. The students will see you as
a real person if you share something about yourself.
Create a Who
Is Your Teacher? bulletin board to use with your introduction.
I teach various social
studies subjects at Keystone Heights Jr/Sr High School in Keystone Heights,
Florida. We are a 1200+ student, 7-12 public school in Northeast Florida.
Since we are a relatively small school in a close-knit community I often
"know" the students in my class prior to them actually being in my
class, and in turn they think they "know" me.
As an icebreaker/opening
activity we do a tried and true activity, KWL, with the topic being "Mrs.
Honour" For those unfamiliar with the activity, the students make a list
of things they already "K"now about the topic, things they "W"ant
to know about the topic and after the "lesson" the students list
what they have "L"earned about the topic. We generally get a pretty
good list going about what they know about me (common knowledge) .... I drive
a green mini-van, I shop at Food Lion, I have two children who go to this
school.... Then we get a list of what they want to know... in the past, the
students have wanted to know what do I do for fun, what kinds of music do I
listen to, and if have I ever met anyone famous ....
Now for the lesson... I
prepare a list of facts about myself, ranging from where I was born to I
manage my own fantasy baseball team, and other similarly
"interesting" facts.. I fold each one and put them all in my fact
jar. I have a large piece of white butcher paper taped to the board with my
name circled in the center. (this introduces the freeform concept mapping
activity I use regularly in class) I ask for volunteers and one by one the
students illustrate the fact and students guess what it is... when someone
gets in right, they illustrate the next fact... Each class produces a free
form map of me! I tell them that they will need to learn this valuable
information about me.
The next day - I leave all
the classes maps of me up, and pass out a 20 question "quiz" in
multiple choice format, and tell them to feel free to use the "visual
resources" on the wall. Auughhhh a quiz on the second day, they groan....
good news for them is that after I "grade" the quizzes, I return
them the next day with a coupon attached... I grade the quiz based on 10
questions and for every question they get right over the 10, they get a coupon
worth that many extra credit points on a real quiz!
We then go back to the KWL
list and I have each class contribute 3 new things they know about me... So
now, the mysterious teacher at the front of the class seems to be more like a
real person to everyone, and for homework they are to create their own
free-form concept of themselves (7-10 facts illustrated on a 81/2X11 unlined
paper), and viola, I have great "stuff" for a bulletin board just in
time for open house.
|Submitted by Nicole
Have the students
introduce themselves to you. Try to remember as many
names as possible. I turn it into a game for myself.
During the first week, I play "Name That
Student" at the end of each class. I take a class
roster with me and move around the classroom trying to
guess each student's name. I work around the room as many
times as time allows. On the last day of the week, I put
the class roster away and work from memory. My goal is to
know every student's name by the end of the first week,
and this game usually allows me to accomplish that goal.
Create a seating
chart as soon as your class list is final. Be sure to
allow for flexibility, the first chart will more than
likely have some flaws. Even if you do not plan to use a
seating chart throughout the year, it will help you learn
the students' names if you use one the first few weeks of
school. If remembering names is a problem for you, put
the students in alphabetical order for the first seating
chart. Most teachers alphabetize by the last name; try
alphabetizing by the first name instead.
Other ideas for seating charts
Icebreakers and Energizers
"getting to know you" activities for the
students. They will get to know one another, and you will
get to know them. You will also be able to see how they
work together as a group so you can spot potential
problems and work toward solutions. Visit the Icebreakers
and Energizers page.
Hidden Message Puzzle
Create a different
word search puzzle with a hidden message for each
student. The hidden messages can be rules or policies for
your classroom or positive words of encouragement for the
new year. The Hidden Message Word Search Puzzle at Discovery
School's Puzzlemaker will make the puzzle
for you. You tell it what the message is to be and what
words you want the students to find.
Write your rules
or policies in hieroglyphic and have the students decode
them. Use the Cheops Hieroglyphic Transformer at Egypt's Tourism Net to make your
message. A letter to hieroglyphic guide is available as
well. You can use the online version or download a
program for use on your computer. (You could also write
the students' names in hieroglyphic and have the students
try to find their names.)
Another site is How
to Write Your Name in Mayan Glyphs. The directions are a little
more difficult, but its still fun.
Rule Question and Answer Match
that students might have about your policies and rules on
index cards. Write the answers on cards of a different
color. Pass them out to the students and have them try to
match questions to answers. You will accomplish three
goals with this activity. First, your students will
become familiar with your rules and policies. Second,
your students will get to know each other. Third, you
will be able to see which students are shy and which ones
do not interact well with other students.
Preview the Textbook
Pass out the
textbooks and let the students preview them so they can
see what to expect. Create a "worksheet" that
requires the students look over the table of contents,
index, and glossary. Ask general questions about the
topics you will cover during the year. While the students
are working on the assignment, you can officially check
out the books.
Give a pretest to determine the
class's strengths and weaknesses. This will help you plan
lessons throughout the year. You will know which areas to
skim over and which ones to cover thoroughly.
Check Out Books from the Classroom Library
If you teach
language arts, have the students check out books from
your classroom library. Be sure to go over the procedure
for checking out books and returning them. A few students
at a time can check out books while the others are
working on another activity. The students will now have
something to take home the very first day.
Even if you posted
the supply list before school began, go over the supply
list with the students and explain why they need the
uncommon items. Give a deadline for having supplies at
If you want the students to have
a certain organizational method for their notebooks and
materials, do this the first day. Be sure to have a
supply on hand of simple materials such as dividers,
paper, folders, spiral notebooks, etc. for those students
who are not prepared the first day. They can then pay you
back when they get their materials. Hopefully, most
students will pay you back.
Student Made Bulletin Board
Have the students
create something for a student made bulletin board. For
example, give each student a puzzle piece cut from
posterboard or tagboard. Have each student decorate her
puzzle piece to show her unique qualities. Items to
include are name, hobbies, interests, and family. Provide
magazines and clip art for the students to use if they
are not artistic. Student can work on this while you are
checking out materials, assigning lockers, etc.
At the beginning of the year I like to have my students
participate in an activity that will last the entire year. Each child
receives a square made of material that they decorate according to a theme
(such as Olympics) that includes their name. Those squares are then
sewed together to make a curtain, room divider, or wall hanging for the
entire year! The last time I made one the students chose a state that
started with the same letter as their name, researched the state, and
included some information about that state through pictures. I
completed the quilted curtain by sewing in some red and blue pieces to
accent their white ones!
Submitted by Carleen Megow -- Springton Lake Middle
School Gr.7 Learning Support Teacher
Student Information Card
Use you computer
to create student information cards. You can get four
cards on each sheet. Run copies on cardstock and cut them
apart. File this in a box for future reference. Items to
include are name, address, phone number, birthday, class
schedule, parents' names, and parents' workplaces and
phone numbers. You will have the information on hand when
you need to call parents or find the student when she
isn't with you--no more running to the office and
bothering the secretary.
Learning Styles Inventory
Give your students
the learning styles inventory to determine how they learn
best. This will be beneficial to both you and your
students. Links to assessments are below. Some
assessments can be taken online while others will need to
be printed and hand scored. Not all of the assessments
look at the same traits, so please look at all of them
before making a decision.
Links to other ideas for first day activities: