Monday, August 1, 2016

First Day of School Stations Activity

Since my theme for the upcoming school year appears to be "Throw All Caution Into the Wind and Do Things Totally Differently Than Usual and Just Hope for the Best" I thought I may as well start the year off right by completely changing up my first day of school routine.

Three years ago on the blog, readers shared some of their favorite first day of school tricks, activities, and pieces of advice. There are so many great things that you can do on the first day, but one thing seems to be perfectly clear: the first day will set the tone for your entire year. What message do you want to send your students about what your classroom will be like?

I have been very dissatisfied with my first day of school routine the last year or so. My style has evolved so much, and my first day must reflect that! It makes no sense at all for students to come in and sit quietly and work on a silent activity when that is rarely how my classroom actually operates. Nowadays we get up and move. We interact in small groups. We do a mixture of group and solo activities. We write, we draw, we make lists and anchor charts. We dig deep. Shouldn't that be apparent on the first day of school?

So this year I am doing stations on the first day of school. I started doing some stations activities during the second semester of last year, and they were a huge hit with my students! Since then, I've been reading posts from Real Learning in Room 213 and she has some great advice on making stations (and movement!) work in a secondary classroom. I feel that stations best reflect the kind of classroom environment I want and expect. I think it will also be a great way to start establishing procedures on Day 1.

I developed five stations and the materials to go along with them.

  1. Syllabus Scavenger Hunt - I did this several years ago and gave it up. I've brought it back with some pizazz. This is a team activity. The students at this station will work together to complete the syllabus scavenger hunt as quickly and accurately as possible. The winning team from each class period will receive some kind of a prize.
  2. Read Dating - since I am hopeful that I will be able to do my new literature circles unit this year, I want to give my students the opportunity to speed date and rank each of the nine novels. I will book talk each one later, but for now they will get about thirty seconds or so with each book and will get to rank their interest in it on a scale of 1 to 10.
  3. My Life as A... - this is a student interest inventory, with a twist. It's divided into four sections: My Life as a Student, My Life as a Reader, My Life as a Writer, and My Life as a Speaker. It's also not your typical q/a. Some questions require them to draw, some require them to evaluate themselves.
  4. Which One? - my objective with this station is for students to start practicing the art of kind and inquisitive conversation. The students at this station will answer the questions by talking amongst their team to determine "which one," like "which one has traveled furthest from home" and "which one is the tallest" and "which one has the coolest party trick."
  5. Book Exploration - this station is for students to pick up their textbooks (my Honors 9 kids have three textbooks, General 10 have two) and begin exploring them. There will be chart paper on the wall and they are to each write on a sticky note a topic they found in the book that interests them and a topic that they think they will struggle with.

I am really excited to see how this activity plays out this year! I'm feeling very optimistic.

If you are interested in trying out these First Day of School Stations this year, you can check them out here!

P.S. - in case you missed it, the site-wide Teachers Pay Teachers sale is going on RIGHT NOW. Get in there and score some deals!

Happy Back-to-School Shopping!