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    Summer vacation is almost over and I am beginning to stress over the first few days of class.  Our school starts on a Minimum Day Wednesday (Every Wednesday is a minimum day) so that first day, with all the new names and faces will only have 38 minutes.  I will already have my hands full, but thinking about an activity that is both quick and fun has been difficult.

    I hate to give rules on the first day, hate going over the syllabus or classroom routines.  Students have just been off for 7 weeks and this is not the first impression I want them to have of class.  I usually save that for the beginning of the first full week.  I do create a seating chart for the first day, primarily because it saves me a lot of time when I take attendance.  After attendance is taken, students move around the room.  So with my personal quirks in mind and those few minutes the first day, I decided to do something different.  I am going to start with a you tube video of David Letterman’s Top Ten List on “Why I Decided to Become a Teacher”.

    David Letterman Top Ten List on You Tube

    The video is only a few minutes. I previewed the list and it is OK for classrooms, kids should enjoy it and then will have them follow it up with creating their own Top Ten List.  

      I always create at least 2 versions of forms or pages because I have support classes as well as core classes and sometimes I have a few students who are in both classes.  Nothing is more boring than having a student do the same thing twice in a day.  I want those separate classes to have different questions.  If you are interested in these forms, you can download from my google drive.  I have included both a pdf and a word version–you may want to edit it for your own class.

    Top Ten List Word Version

    Top Ten List Pdf Version

    In the directions I let students know that all the content needs to be funny, appropriate and clean.  I will also make sure they understand that we are to use humor to uplift people and need to be nice. No poking fun of the teacher either, LOL. 
    I had wanted to do a signature activity for the first day so they could get to know each other and start creating a comfortable and safe atmosphere but when I remembered that the first day is only 38 minutes, I decided the Signature Activity could be done on Thursday instead.  Again, I created two versions, and am including the links for both the pdf and editable version if you are interested.  

    Signature Activity, word version

    Signature Activity Pdf Version

    I have used some version of this activity for years during the first few days of school.  I always learn so much about the students and their backgrounds.  And the kids can have each student sign their page once only.  Each of the 25 squares have some descriptor or quality on it.  Like “Find someone who has 2 cats” Students would walk around the room and talk to people and find people who fit these descriptions and can sign their paper. Sometimes I use this activity for a review at the beginning of second semester and ask them to find people who can answer some of the math questions for me.  If  you do this, remember to check that the students who sign can actually do this.  I am not saying they cheat, but all students–every level–likes to win.  Even if there is no prize involved and they will bend the rules, sometimes there is so much bending that they start to look like pretzels….soft pretzels pleading with me to declare them winners.

    These two activities take care of the first two days and I am still thinking about Friday.  Usually we give a diagnostic on Friday, at least the 7th grade team did.  I am moving to the 8th grade team this year and have no information of what they do.  And when I think about it, the only purposed of the diagnostic was to determine if a student should be in support classes and at this point, with new books, new pacing guides, etc., I am not sure what I would include on such a test.  I am also thinking about having theme days each week–at least for my support classes, which I have been told I can structure any way I want. (I will have to test that statement early)  By theme I mean like Fun Friday–where we play some kind of skill building game, or Trivia Tuesday where we start the class with some obscure trivia question about math or mathematicians. I am still trying to decide the other days and get some of these activities planned for the year.

    If there are any problems with the links I have provided, please let me know.

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