Tag Archives: first day

First Day Materials #MTBoSBlaugust

Spurred by this tweet:

I thought I would share some of my first day materials. (Side note: Ali is starting up her first year teaching! Go give her an encouraging shoutout! She’s going to be awesome!)

Our first day is usually chopped up quite a bit, what with a super-long first period for everyone to find their place, then grade-level assemblies, crazy lunch, etc, so I usually don’t like to plan an activity for the day because it will just get all jumbled. I know, I know, not cool, but sometimes it’s easier to just go with the flow. I always have Four Fours ready if we have extra time at the end of class! We usually start on a Thursday, so I spend Friday doing the “fun” first day stuff then we’re ready to jump in Monday.

All that to say this is my “not fun but necessary” first day stuff.

My syllabus (2 to a page because trees):


File here  I also had a different version that had 10 tips for success that just got too wordy and me-talky:

steps to success

Maybe spread them out and talk about 2 each day as a warm up? Or just copy the genius of Becca Phillips:

For the survey, I usually have directions for the students to start the survey on their phones when they get into class (and yes, I understand a url and QR code are redundant, but I found¬†many students didn’t have a QR reader¬†installed). I also have my phone and my computer available for those that don’t have one. The survey is a google form that starts with last name, first name, preferred name, class period, grade level, then some get-to-know-you questions:

student survey

I also need to add birthday so I can do something fun for them!

I also liked Sarah & Kathryn’s idea of having the kids introduce themselves on a padlet–maybe upload a photo too so I can get to know names?

As for the parent survey, most of the teachers have parents sign the syllabus the first day, but I tell my students that they need to take the survey instead (and yes, some students respond pretending to be parents but you can usually sniff them out, and really, didn’t some students sign their parents name when we did it the old fashioned way? ¬†I also tell them that they can pick up a paper form on the way out if getting online is a problem.

parent survey

The “proud of my child because” one? That is teacher-parenting communication gold right there! I do the “terms of service” for anything that I routinely get emails/phone calls about. (For my precal, I have that they do need a graphing calculator and can rent one from the school if needed.)

I also do a fun “getting to know Mrs Craig and man she is really weird and makes really stupid jokes” powerpoint:

I just updated the states page (Thanks, TMC16 for #27!) and the countries visited page (14!). It seems like a cheat to count both Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and Saint Martin (French side), but they are separate countries!

Will have to come up with something different for ACT prep this year…maybe have a goofy multiple choice test? ¬†Like Mrs Craig has (a) a cat (b) a pig (c) a gerbil (d) a corgi? ¬†Things to think about next week!

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First Two Days Reflection

I actually started on the 13th, but am just getting around to blogging about it because I spent all last weekend making lagging, spiraling homework as well as activities that were not worth the effort I put into them (but that’s a topic for another post).¬† I’m teaching Algebra II w/ Trig and PreAP Precal, but I did the same thing in both classes for the first two days. I’m also adding a rating system from 1 (that sucked) to 10 (that was awesome)


    • High-fived all students and checked off names/got nicknames as they walked in. Rating: 9 due to difficulty in multitasking, also weird looks from students
    • Had them fill out google survey. Besides name, nickname, class period, these questions are also on there:¬†Google Student Info Survey Rating: 8 I thought these kids could text fast, but it always takes sooooo long.
    • Told them a bit about myself. Rating: 10 because I’m awesome.
    • Hit the high points of the syllabus, showed them how to get to my google doc that will have links to everything we do in class SO DON’T ASK ME WHAT YOU MISSED. Rating: 5 I mean, it’s a syllabus.
    • Played the first day video from youcubed’s week of inspirational math. Rating: 7 Couldn’t get much discussion out of them after it, but it was first day.
    • Continued with youcubed’s day one activity of writing group norms. Now I just need to make them into a poster. Rating: 8 Got everyone involved and talking. Got some good descriptors: “Open-mindedness” “Listening” “Optimistic”
    • Spent the rest of the day with the Four Fours activity, also from youcubed’s suggested first day. Basic idea: use four fours and any math operation(s)/symbol(s) to make all the numbers from 1-20. Rating: 10 Almost 100% participation the whole time. This would also be a great starting activity for order of operations. Two classes had enough time to get all 20!
    • Homework was reading the Make It Stick handout and also having parent fill out google survey, here’s the good part of it:Google Parent SurveyRating: 7 Only about 75% of parents have filled it out as of yesterday. On the other hand, one parent actually wrote in the additional comments section, “Thank you for a great and innovative syllabus experience.” The “I’m proud of my child because” question is great to refer to in parent meetings.


  • High-fived everyone again. Rating: 10 Pro tip: If you’re setting stuff up between classes as kids are coming in, just go around the room quickly and high-five them before you stand outside the door.
  • Bellringer was 3 things you learned from the reading, 2 questions you still have, and one interesting fact.¬† After they finished writing, I gave them 1 minute to share interesting fact with group. Then I gave them 2 minutes to try to answer each other’s questions, then asked each group to share questions they still had and I answered them. I gave them another 2 minutes to decide their favorite key idea as a group, had each group share, then I elaborated with more information from the book. Rating: 9 Good discussions in each class!¬† Especially when I brought up the fact about re-reading not being helpful and “illusions of mastery.” My favorite moment: I was discussing lagging homework and asked, “so have you ever been in a class where the teacher says, ‘uh-oh, I have two minutes to finish this problem that you need to know in order to do the homework?’ Well, now we can hold off until the next day since your homework won’t apply to today’s lesson!” Then one girl replied, “Or we could try it as homework as generation for the next day!”¬† I think I may have cheered when she said that.
  • I had them fill out their math goal and find accountability buddies. Rating: 3 Almost every single student just wrote “make an A.” I also haven’t had time for them to check in with their accountability buddies. Would not do again, or maybe wait until a few weeks into class.
  • Up next was paper folding from youcubed.org.¬† Rating: 2¬† I would not do this activity again. After the quick success of the first two (fold a square into a square that is 1/4 of the original; fold a square into a triangle that is 1/4 of the original), the next ones amp up the difficulty by quite a bit (fold a triangle that is 1/4 of original square but not congruent to first triangle; fold 2 different squares that are 1/2 of the original). Also, when students thought they got it, instead of convincing their partner, they would call me over and ask me if it was right. Quite a few students embraced the challenge and kept on folding, but for many of them, the frustration (and maybe pointless-ness?) was just too great and they quit. I’d be interested to hear if those teaching younger students have more success. And I still don’t know how to do the second square oriented differently from the first that has 1/2 the area of the original. I thought quite a few of them had it but upon trying to convince me, they didn’t.

I hope to back soon with a recap of the first real week of teaching, but after working on math for the last two weeks straight I need an afternoon of not thinking. At all.

My thing: It has been a while since I share a favorite thing, so today I’m going to absolutely amaze you with CamelCamelCamel.¬† This is a price tracker for Amazon and works in three different ways: 1) Connect it to your Amazon wishlist. It will automatically alert you via email when the price of something you want has gone down. You can also add individual items on the website (great for tracking stuff from other people’s wishlists for gifts) 2) Use the browser plug-in or copy the amazon URL into its webpage to see the price history. Great to know if that $40 price is just a high mark, or if it’s been $40 for the last three months, or if it wavers between $30 and $50. 3) Browse their list of popular products for “good deals” and “best prices.” Two things it doesn’t do: it does not alert you to lightening deals (but I usually get an alert if its a an-day daily deal) and it also cannot track kindle book prices. But I still think it’s a great tool!¬† And you could probably do something really mathy with the historic price charts, too.

First day!

Tomorrow is the first day of school. These are the good things that have happened over the past three workdays:

1) I got a new parking spot in the shade.

So I’m hoping things will get better when the kids get here.¬† I should have a good group this year, just a lot of them (over 160 at last count).

Instead of lesson planning last night, I thought I should make some posters because fonts > freaking out.

First my classroom rules:

CAM00136Three cool things about this 1) I made it using PicMonkey, from the same people that brought you Picnik if you used that back in the day before Google killed it.¬† I haven’t played around a lot with PicMonkey, but I definitely could see myself spending lots of time there.¬† 2) I printed it as an engineering print at Staples for $1.85! Warning: after laminating, the hot glue affected it oddly as you can see in the corners.¬† I was using high-temp glue which I normally don’t use so I don’t know if that was part of the problem.¬† But I’m willing to live with it for $1.85 (that’s including tax, my friend.)¬† 3) Here’s the file.

Then I went to work on Glenn’s 3 Essential Rules of Math ¬†Behold:

CAM00137Thanks to some crafty suggestions, I’m going to jazz it up with some washi tape and/or bulletin board border, but I still like them.¬† Here is both the pdf and word.

Then today I went to work on my beginning of school Powerpoint.¬† Do you like memes?¬† Well then, you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy.

Also if you note in slide 5, TMC put me over the hump in states!  Thanks, Jenks!
One final image: There was a discussion on twitter that some people don’t own 12 different rolls of washi tape, or perhaps not even know about washi tape!¬† It is “pretty” masking tape that you can write on and also peel off of most things without damaging it.¬† You can usually find it in the scrapbooking section.¬† Office supply stores also carry it, but they are sometimes a bit pricey. I don’t know if Target still has the four rolls for $4 in the office supply section, but it’s worth a look.¬† There are many things you can do with it, but this is my fave:
01-washi tapeWe have a table in our entryway with all of our different white power cords.¬† Add some washi tape to the end to easily identify.¬† If you’d like to be even more clever, add the same color to the other end of the cord in case you have to unplug it.¬† And if you’d like to be super clever, you can put the tape just on the top of the plugs that have an orientation.¬† Yes, that means always plugging it in correctly on the first try.¬† You’re welcome.