Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 1

The first day of class for me is kind of a wash. My class meets first period and during first period on the first day of school the freshmen have a class meeting in the theater. Since 22 of my 31 (my numbers right now, anyway) students are freshmen (9 are sophomores), and I'll only see them for about 5 minutes, we can't do much. (Last year I went with the freshmen and the sophomores stayed with another Algebra teacher and their sophomores - we'll probably do something similar this year.)

So this is what I did last year. As the students came in there was already a slip of paper on their desks with their name on it (telling them where their seat is) and the URL for the class blog, as well as our Algebra textbook. When the bell rings I do a very quick "hi" and let them know that the freshmen will be dismissed shortly to go to the class meeting. I ask them to write their names in their Algebra textbooks and that they should visit the class blog tonight to see what their assignment is. I also have the class blog up on the screen and, if I have time, I briefly go over what that assignment is.

Before I talk about that assignment, I need to backup briefly. Right now (in June) I'm in the process of contacting all the parents to verify that they have high-speed Internet access at home (if they don't, then we'll switch them into another Algebra section - last year they all had it.) As part of this I make sure I have the parent's email address and I share some initial information about the class with them, and then let them know that I'll be contacting them - and their student - in early August. I also share with them the Incoming Freshmen Math Skills Assessment and Resources that my math department asks our incoming students to work through before August.

In early August I then send some additional information to the parents, and also ask them to share some information with their student. This includes reminding them about the Math Skills Assessment, and Resources, asking them to read through the course expectations (here's last year's) and completing an online form indicating they've read them, and asking them to write an "About Me" and, if possible, emailing it to me before school starts. I also ask them if they are called something other than their given first name and ask them to bookmark the class blog.

So, back to the first day's assignment. On the blog that night I'll ask them to read the course expectations and submit the online form (if they haven't already done it), complete the About Me writing assignment (if they haven't already done it) and get it to me by Wednesday, and I ask them to take their textbook home, place it wherever they study, and take a picture of it there. Then they need to email the picture to me (or they can just show me on their cell phone) to show that the textbook made it home (if any students just have no way to get a digital image of the textbook, I tell them they can draw a picture). We don't use the textbook day-to-day in my class, but I still give it to them as another resource that I want them to keep at home in case it helps.

So, while I am giving "homework" on the first day of class even though we really didn't have class, for most of the students the only thing they need to complete is taking their book home and taking a picture of it. (But it does allow for those students who chose not to do the other two things before school started to do it now.)

Given the restrictions of my "first" day of class, what do you think?


  1. I think that is a grand idea! I really enjoy the students taking a picture of the book for their first assignment. The first day of school is always hard and you never have any time to get a lot accomplished, so this is a grand idea!

  2. Your first day sounds great! I really like that you are so prepared before the students come to class the first day and that you have them working online the first night. I'm already taking notes on your plans in hopes of implementing similar plans in my Spanish classroom. Two obstacles that I know I'll come across are 1) I do not even know what I am teaching in August (we do not get that information until our first workday) and 2) Our school has very few email addresses for parents and students on record. I will email the school this week in hopes that they can give me more information because I would really like to be as prepared as you are for the first day.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more of your daily lessons!


  3. Tracie Thanks. That first obstacle is a really tough one. For the second, I have about 11 of my 31 that I don't have an email address for so I'll be calling them to ask about broadband and then will ask them for an email address. That takes a little longer than just being able to email them, but once we get it setup then I know I have a good contact list for all of the parents.

  4. My best first days were those when I could engage the class in a group math activity the moment they walked in the door. It's too bad your schedule doesn't allow you more time with all your students!