Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer Series-First Days Must Haves Follow-Up

A few weeks ago I asked what were some things you had to have or used on the First Days of School or what advice you would give to a new teacher. The response was overwhelming! Teachers from all over the world gave their input. Here is my wrap-up of the results:

  • Several teachers said they create a quiz or an interest survey. Instead of pencil and paper create a form in Google Docs and have the students complete it that way. Or another suggestion was, on your class blog or wiki, post the survey or quiz there and have the students post their answers. While it is important for the teacher to know the learning styles or interests of the students it is important for the kids to know each others as well. Other teachers have the students create the rules for the class. Again, a great way for students to collaborate would be to use a Google Doc, Wiki or Blog.
  • From ascienceteacher: I send home an assignment for the parents to complete. I found it on the internet years ago. Its called, "A Million words or Less." Basically it asks parents to tell me about their child in a million words or less. Some parents write a sentence or two while others talk about their child in pages upon pages. I find that parents can be brutally honest and tell me things that help me teach their student more effectively or they tell me something about their child's past that has shaped them into the young adult they are today. The kids get a kick out of the fact that I assign their parents homework the first week of school and they don't have any homework to complete. This has been a great assignment to start the year off with.
  • From deenawarwick: I teach 4th Grade on on the first day of school, I always give my students a pop quiz. Every question on the quiz is about me: where I'm from, my likes, dislikes, etc. It is the funniest thing to watch the kids scramble for answers and then read the answers they chose. At the end of the quiz, I usually show a power point revealing the answers. In the past, I would have students volunteer answers themselves during the answer portion, but this year I think I am going to have students create their own power points to reveal their answers. This will give them an opportunity to become familiar with some of the technology we will be using this year along with getting to know each other.
  • From kellyhines: In the first few days of school, take a digital pic of each individual student in your class. They are invaluable to have if you need pics for a project or they are needed for yearbooks, etc. It's also great fun to get them out in the last days of school to see how much your students really have changed throughout the year.
  • From mldesilva: This year I have made a sticky notes board at http://stixy.com. I have a welcome sticky on the board explaining to students that I would like each of them to drag a sticky to the board and on it to introduce themselves and tell us something about themselves that they would like to share with the class. They can add pictures to their sticky, link a document, change the color, pattern, etc. The goal is to be to get them to use technology in a very easy way to start the year. It is the simplest program, yet it will get the job done. In the end, we will have this great board covered with information about my students. They are able to be creative, share something about themselves, and feel empowered that they created something on their first day.
  • From dylynn: Have students sign up for all accounts they will need throughout the semester. This will eliminate wasted time later on when you are ready to use these tools. Examples include: wiki, blogs, nings, moodle.
  • From dawnsayre: Begin your year by engaging students and parents through a classroom blog. Include highlights of learning by mentioning the great things that the kids are doing. Communication gives the parents a segue to discussions with their children about their learning. Public praise of students also goes a long way when there is a problem in the classroom that has to be addressed. Parents are more receptive if they know that the teacher sees the good in their child,too. If a blog is too time consuming, consider Twitter as a quick shout out to the parents.

There are so many more that you need to see. Below is a link to the entire list. Share this with your colleagues, staffs or friends. Try to find something here that you aren't doing and do it! When you do, come back here and tell me about it. I want to hear your success stories. I want to hear what works and what didn't. I want to hear if there was something you discovered that you are going to do from now on. Whatever it is, tell me about it!

First Days Survey Results

Image Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons


  1. As a teacher librarian who is suddenly finding herself in the classroom this year, this roundup of start-of-year suggestions was invaluable. Thanks for doing the survey, Steven, and thanks to everyone who contributed.

  2. This is super valuable information for new and returning teachers. Off to share the link with others! Thanks for compiling the info!


  3. Wow. What wonderful ideas. Thanks to all who posted ideas. Steven, you are so very helpful. Keep up the awesome work on twitter!

    mccormickmath (twitter id)