Showing posts with label high school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high school. Show all posts

1.07.2014

Blogging PLN Challenge Accepted





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Happy New Year, Friends! I can't believe it's been a month since I've blogged here, but that changes today. I was tagged by Mike Nitzel (@MikeNitzel) on Twitter and have accepted his blogging challenge. You can read Mike's answers and random facts HERE (they won't put you to sleep, contrary to what he thinks!). I could relate to many things Mike wrote because we live in the same area. Pretty cool, huh!? Anyway, hopefully I won't bore you to death with my answers...


Here are the rules of the challenge:
1) Acknowledge the nominating blogger (check!)
2) Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4) List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
5) Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).

Eleven random facts about me...
1. I'm from Iowa. (Insert your favorite Iowa joke here; I'm used to it.) 

2. Though I lived in Iowa for 22 years, I was born in Michigan. My dad was doing the sheet metal construction on the Pontiac Super Dome at the time, so that's where my parents lived temporarily for a year or so. They moved back to Iowa when I was seven months old.

3. I currently live on the other side of the river. (We Quad-Citians refer to the Mississippi River as just "the river," even though the Rock River is here, too. We call that "the Rock." Kind of confusing to visitors, I'm sure.) My husband and I have lived in a small town outside of the Quad Cities since 2001, where we both teach.


4. We have a 15-year-old son who is involved in sports and likes to drum. And is learning to drive. Which scares me to death. On the other hand, I do look forward to next fall when I can say, "Honey, could you run to the store and get..."

5. My favorite sport is baseball. I grew up going to all of my brother's games and was raised in an area that breeds baseball players (if you've seen the movie "The Final Season," then you've seen where I grew up).

6. I did many different things before I started teaching, including car sales. There's only so much you can do with a degree in English and Mass Communications/Journalism. Especially when the only newspaper hiring was for pro bono work. So back to school I went...

7. We have a nine-year-old Italian Greyhound named Sparky. He's our baby and is spoiled rotten. But he's pretty high maintenance, too. With our son being in high school sports, we feel pretty guilty leaving Sparky at home. Which is why he usually comes with us for football and baseball games. I did mention he's spoiled, right?

8. Wow...eleven random facts is harder than I thought. I can count this one, right?

9. I teach high school English. Lately I wonder why I wanted to torture myself with a career that guarantees I will always have an endless stack of papers to grade, pages to read, tests to write, lessons to plan. Then I remember the perks: sharing my love for reading and writing with dozens of teens each year. (It's too bad my love for reading doesn't include poorly-written essays. Then my job really would be a dream-come true!) 

10. You may have noticed that I have a second job besides high school English teacher. (I'm saying this sarcastically...) I started selling my teaching resources on TeachersPayTeachers in 2009. I never dreamed that teachers would even care about the activities I create for my students, let alone want them. I'm very humbled by the amount of teachers who have used my resources. Their comments and notes mean the world to me, even though I can't respond to all of them. 

11. Lately I've been considering writing full-time... More on that below.

Whew...that was hard! Now on to the specific questions from Mike...

1) Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi products, for sure. (Diet Mountain Dew is my choice. I know it's terrible for me. But I love it.)

2) List the items you would have on the menu for your "last meal". My favorite meal would have to include portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, steak, my mom's green beans (she cooks them in butter and garlic and I can never replicate them no matter what I do), and cheese cake. And a scoop of Whitey's ice cream. OK...now I am hungry...

3) If you were not an educator, what profession would you have liked to pursue and why? For my random facts I said I was considering writing full-time. That was always what I wanted to "be" when I was a kid, though finding a career as a "writer" is pretty tough, as I learned. I love journalism, but I really didn't want to be a reporter forever. Then I started to get into design and layout when I was a newspaper/yearbook advisor. (When I was in college we still did the "cut and paste" layout. And I mean literally cut and paste.) I loved it. It spilled over into my lessons and I could seriously see myself writing novel units and educational resources full-time.

4) What is the best leadership book you have ever read and why? Would it be awful for me to say I haven't read any "leadership" books? Does Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer count? ;)

5) What is your favorite movie and what about it makes it meaningful to you in some way? The English teacher in me absolutely loves "Dead Poets Society" and "The Freedom Writers." And the Stephen King fan in me loves "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Stand By Me." And then there's so many baseball movies... 

6) What is the one place you would like to visit in the world that you haven't been to? Italy. My mom is Italian and has family there none of us have ever met. It would be amazing to meet them and see the country.

7) Who has had the biggest influence on your professional life? My husband, for sure. He is an amazing teacher (social studies) and coach (baseball, of course). He inspires me to be a better teacher.

8) Share your favorite joke. This is one of my favorite "jokes" of all time. I've had this picture taped to the window next to my classroom door for years. I put it up one year for some spring break/Easter humor, and it has stayed there. It makes me laugh every time I see it.
 
9) Who is a hero of yours and why? (Caveat--You cannot say your parents. spouse, partner, or kids.  That's just a cheap way to win brownie points!) Perhaps it is because we just completed To Kill a Mockingbird and have been talking about the Civil Rights Movement in class, but I think Mamie Till is an unsung hero. She had the strength to allow the world to see what happened to her son—to show the world what racism looks like. She had nothing to gain herself; what she did was for all humanity. The amount of people she affected is countless.  

10) What is one thing about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn? Most people are surprised to learn I was a sprinter in high school and went to state my junior and senior years. Let's just say I'm not much of a runner these days... 

11) Smooth or crunchy? Hmmm...I'm going to be difficult and say it depends. Or perhaps, both. 

If you made it this far, hallelujah! Now it's your turn!

I have to tag 11 fellow educators, so I've chosen:
3. Addie @ Teacher Talk
4. Tammy @ Juggling ELA
6. Ruth @ The Teacher Park
and anyone else who wants to participate! (I have to cut it short because my ride is waiting for me! I'll add to it soon.)

Here are my 11 questions (and I'm doing the same...borrowing from Mike's!):
1. Coke or Pepsi?
2. Favorite teaching tool?
3. What is the biggest change in education since you started teaching?
4. In ten years, I'll be...
5. Funniest thing said in your classroom?
6. If you were not an educator, what profession would you have liked to pursue and why?
7. What is the one place you would like to visit in the world that you haven't been to?
8. Who has had the biggest influence on your professional life?
9. Favorite book?
10. What is one thing about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn?
11. If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?

And thanks, again, Mike, for tagging me. I needed a little push to get back into blogging. ;)


4.06.2013

Seven End-of-the-Year Writing Prompts for High School Seniors

Writing Prompts for Seniors www.traceeorman.com

As your seniors begin the last few weeks of their high school careers, they will probably be experiencing many emotions. Excited to graduate, stressed for finals, anxious to begin a new life. To help ease their anxiety, carve out a little time for a meaningful writing assignment. Try one of these short prompts:

1. "Remember when..." - Who doesn't like to reminisce once in a while? Have your students write as many "Remember when..." statements about their school days and classmates. Allow them to share with their classmates. You could also collect their writing and make copies for each student. For a paperless option, create a Google Document and share it with them. Each student can contribute their own "Remember when..." statements.

2. "My Favorite Quote..." - Have your students share their favorite quotes. Prompt them to elaborate on why that particular quote speaks to them. Some will already know their favorite quote, but others may need help. Here are some websites with compilations of quotes that may help:
  • Brainy Quote
  • Good Quotations by Famous People (Compiled by Dr. Gabriel Robins)
  • A Collection of Quotes and More Pinterest Board
As an enrichment, students can type their favorite quote into a word-cloud generator (try www.wordle.net or www.tagxedo.com). They can print the images and hang their quotes in the classroom as a reminder of the inspirational words they have chosen.
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Live & Learn End of the Year (or Anytime) Activity for All Ages Freebie
3. Live & Learn and Pass It On: "I Have Learned..." - I've written about this activity several times; it's no surprise that it is one of my favorites each year. Based on H. Jackson Browne Jr.'s book, students write a "life lesson" they have learned. Examples include: "I have learned that being nice to the lunch ladies pays off with extra helpings of food," and "I have learned that my senior year went by way too fast. If I could have a do-over, I'd enjoy it more and stress less." If you want to use the lesson I created for this assignment, you can download it free here: Life Lessons Writing Freebie

4. Best Advice Received &/or Best Advice to Pass Along - First, students write about the best advice they've received in the past four years. What made it the "best"? Did they follow it? Or wish they had? Next, or as an alternative prompt, they write a message of advice to incoming freshmen. What do they wish they had known? Would they pass along advice they had been given? How would advice to an incoming freshman differ from advice they would leave to the current junior class?

5. "My Legacy..." - Ask students, "What is your legacy?" What are they leaving behind for others? This is a good reflective prompt because it makes students think about how they have impacted the lives of others. Perhaps it is a memory of something they did in school--an accomplishment they achieved or how they made a group of students laugh. Maybe they served as an example, whether it was positive or negative (one of my former students who had been expelled for a year wrote about that experience and hoped others would learn from his mistakes). Maybe it is a tangible item, such as a trophy in the cabinet, a seat in the cafeteria, a parking space, a locker, or a tree planted on campus. How will others benefit from their legacy? If they struggle with this, ask them what they would like to leave behind if they had no limitations. Or maybe the underlying question here is: how do they want to be remembered by future students? Or do they want to remembered at all? If not, why not?

Senior Wills and Six Other Writing Prompts for the End-of-the-Year
6. Senior Will - I remember my old high school year yearbook printing up "senior wills" on the last page of the yearbook. Each senior "willed" something to another student, a teacher or staff member, or the administration. Perhaps the reason it was dropped before I entered high school was that some responses like "Jack wills his sense of humor to Mr. Doe because he clearly needs it" were not appropriate or respectful. But some of them were great, like "Jane wills her artistic abilities to the incoming freshmen so they can beat the other classes in the Homecoming float-building contest." If you think your students can handle this (as far as maturity), it is a fun activity. But if it becomes a way to make fun of others, move on to a different activity.

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7. "What's Hot? What's Not?" - Another favorite activity, have students create Hot/Not lists for their high school career. They could start a list on the white board (or on a shared Google Doc) of events or happenings that were "hot" (or great) and "not" over the past four years. "Hot" items might include winning a championship, filming a "Harlem Shake" video, or participating in a poetry cafe. "Not" items may include state testing/final exams (or any high-stakes test), losing a close game, or perhaps losing a classmate. The lists they generate are great discussion starters, but also help students cope with feelings they may still be holding on to. I use my "What's Hot? What's Not?" activity in class for additional purposes, as well. You can download it free in my teacher store.

You'll also want to read:
Thoughtful and Inexpensive Gifts for Graduates

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1.15.2013

Brighten Up the Winter Blues with a Poetry Cafe

Have a poetry cafe event in your English class www.traceeorman.com
Host a poetry cafe this winter!

For me, January through March seems to be the hardest part of the school year to get through. The students are either restless (or just plain tired), the weather is always cruddy (I live in the Midwest), and there's really no holiday breaks to look forward to. (Not that I don't love my job, but you know what I mean...)

To break up the monotonous routine and get students excited for literature, my colleagues and I have put on "poetry cafes." The students all gather during their English class period in the media center and take turns sharing their favorite poems, songs, and other literature. Some of them share their own original poems, others read old favorites. The Foods classes make coffee, cocoa, and treats to sell and our librarian put together packages of books, writing journals, candy, and gift cards to give away toward the end of each class period. Every student who reads aloud is given a raffle ticket. Each class period we drew several tickets for the prizes. It has always been a favorite event of students in English classes.

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You can easily host a poetry cafe in your own classroom before doing a school-wide event. We tend to do the school-wide cafe every-other year or once every three years. During those off-years I host my own in my English classes. We move all the desks out of the way and have pillows and beanbags so students can relax on the floor (I do have carpet). Then I put up holiday lights. Students sign-up ahead of time to bring goodies and bring their own beverage. I usually pick up small gifts of pens and journals/notebooks from Target's $1 spot.
Poetry cafe raffle or door prizes ideas www.traceeorman.com
Find clearance items in the school supplies section for door or raffle prizes.
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This past fall I found some great magnetic poetry kits at WalMart for 50¢ each. They were 75% off from their back-to-school sale. I also picked up some locker white-board kits, cute post-it notes, and locker fresheners. It's so much easier to find things the girls would like, but the boys seem to like anything they could use in their car. Of course, candy always works for them, too. (I teach high school, so if you have any suggestions for other things that boys would like, please share!).

Do you host a poetry cafe? Share your ideas or a link in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!


10.19.2012

Halloween at the High School - Do You Dress Up?

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High School Teachers Halloween Cosumes

It's almost Halloween and I haven't started on my Halloween costume yet...in fact, I'm kind of a procrastinator when it comes to that, then find myself frantically pulling something together the night before. But, I must say, our teaching staff has been pretty darn good about sporting some cool costumes over the years.

Do you dress up at school? Do your students? Do you celebrate at all? I thought I would share some of our best (and maybe worst) costumes over the years...those I have pictures of, anyway. And to fill you in: my husband teaches at the same school, which is why we are often photographed together. ;]

Halloween Gilligan's Island
 Our school has contests each year for best group, best couple, best individual, scariest, most creative, etc. The faculty doesn't compete against the students, but we still like to have fun and participate. A couple of years ago we went as Gilligan's Island (I'm Lovey Howell...with my Andy Warhol wig.)
Halloween Village People
 The Village People (they even had a dance!)
Halloween Village People
Star Wars  Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 My husband was Darth Vader and I went as Princess Leia's hologram that is projected from R2D2. (So my only line all day was, "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope!") I made my R2D2 with a popcorn bowl taped to a trash can on top of an ab roller. I stuck a flashlight inbetween the bowl & trash can so it looked like I was the hologram. I fashioned fishing line from the ab roller to my boot, so when I walked, R2D2 rolled with me. The students could not figure out how I got him to roll. ;)
Our son went as a Stormtrooper that year, so it was pretty cool when the elementary kids came over and did their parade at the high school. We forgot to get a group shot together, though. :(
Halloween Star Wars www.traceeorman.com

Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
Stephen King's Carrie.
Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Members of the Lollipop Guild with a fireman.
Munchkins Lollipop Guild Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Our special ed. teachers always have the best group costumes! (They organized the Gilligan's Island and this Lollipop Guild. Last year they did Charlie Brown. Another year was the Adams Family.)
Snoopy Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
Our art teacher is always creative, too. Here he is as Snoopy. Below, he's Buzz Lightyear.
My husband and I as King Tut and Sister Wendy. Yes, we are geeked out to the max!
www.traceeorman.com  Halloween costumes

And this was going to be my costume one year. I was supposed to cut out the eyes and go as the "Scream" painting by Munch (this was when I was also teaching art history). But I was so proud of my painting, I just couldn't cut the eyes. lol So I went as Princess Leia's hologram that year. 
Scream  Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
If I can find the picture of me as a PEZ dispenser, I will add it. That was definitely a challenging costume to get around in all day!

Here are some of my favorite student costumes over the last few years.
This one I am biased--it's our son as Mr. Bill. :) The crayons behind him are awesome, too.
Mr. Bill Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Rock, Paper, Scissors...
Rock Paper Scissors Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Tractor and paper sack guy.
 Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Tooth fairy.
 Tooth Fairy Halloween costumes www.traceeorman.com
 Taco Sauce Packets.
 Halloween costumes
 Jelly Belly jelly beans.
 Halloween costumes
 Fruit of the Loom.
 Halloween costumes  Fruit of the Loom
 Ken and Barbie in their Dream Car.
Ken and Barbie  Halloween costumes
 Girl Scout & Boy Scout.
 Halloween costumes  Scouts
 Miscellaneous class group picture.
 Halloween costumes
 And who doesn't love a pirate? Arrrrgh!
 Halloween costumes
 The Flintstones.
 Halloween costumes
 Bella and Edward (or, Edward's cut-out).
Twilight  Halloween costumes

 Will you dress up this year? If so, tell us as what you will be.
And post your links to your Halloween costumes below! :)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

8.23.2012

To Decorate or Not Decorate...That is the Question

I love looking at all the cute elementary teachers' classroom pictures. There's something so magical and inviting with all the colors, rugs, story time areas, and cute tiny tables and chairs.

Then, as students get older and the desks get taller, classrooms start to turn...well, a little bland.

What happened to the bright colors?
The rugs on the floor?
The polka dot curtains?
The decorated doors?

Are those things reserved just for the tiny tots in the primary grades? To be honest, I don't think I could picture students in chemistry class sitting around little decorated chairs doing a lab experiment, could you? And if you let high school students sit on a carpet square in the room for story time, wouldn't they just fall asleep? And wouldn't group desk formations encourage cheating?

These are all excuses we high school teachers come up with because, quite frankly, who has time for this?

There are syllabi to copy!
Lessons to plan!
Rosters to load!
Apps to be ran!

Yet, elementary teachers do many of these things and even though they may only have 30 students to our 150, they do have prep work that does not involve decorating. So perhaps high school teachers just decide that classroom aesthetics aren't that important. But...are they? Do you decorate your high school room? If so, how does it impact the learning environment, if at all?

I've actually given this a lot of thought because I like a colorful room. I love hanging quote signs and posters relating to the novels we read. And an English classroom wouldn't be complete without books! These things count as decoration, right?

I think having a happy-looking room will brighten the students' moods. At least I hope it does. I've never done any formal research on the topic, but would love to see a study about this for secondary classrooms.

So I'm going to share some of my classroom pictures that may not be as colorful or organized as my elementary teacher friends', but I love my classroom. :)

Can you tell what we were studying?
Who says the flowers have to be real? These tulips never die. :)

Please share how you "decorate" your secondary room and feel free to link up a post to your blog or website. I'd love to see more examples of secondary rooms! And thanks to all the elementary teachers out there who bring color and joy into the lives of millions of school children each year. :)


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7.15.2012

Back-to-School Activities to Inspire Creativity

Back-to-School Activities to Inspire Creativity from http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

 This summer seems to have flown by and I find myself debating different activities for back-to-school. No matter which ones I choose, I do love to inspire creativity in my students from the first day. It's important for them to see that I value and encourage creative thought. So here's a list of some great back-to-school activities you can share with your students.
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ICEBREAKERS

Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

1. I just uploaded a new freebie today, which is based on an old favorite: Create a Caricature {South Park Style}. In the past I've had students create caricatures from the novel we were currently reading. But why not have them create little miniatures of themselves? Last year when we started our class blog, my students created their caricatures but most were unable to upload their pictures on Blogger because of some filters on our school servers. I created a work-around in a Google Doc that should allow my students to not only share their caricatures, but collaborate on some additional activities. This is also included in this back-to-school free download.

Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
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The download has a student information planning guide so they can write information about themselves before creating their image. I always learn a lot about my students when I see their "mimi-me" creations. You can share them with parents on Open House night, as well.

Journalism connection: You can also have students create the caricatures for the yearbook or school newspaper. Have all the seniors create their own caricatures and use them for quotes or shout-outs throughout the book. The newspaper staff could have these figures as their head/mug shots rather than the standard staff picture.


And students aren't the only ones who should have fun creating caricatures: you can make a welcome back sign in your likeness, as well. Have fun with it!

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Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

2. Another free activity is my Back-to-School Top 10 Lists. Have your students come up with positive reasons to be back in school. The lists my students have come up with over the years are hilarious. I included some samples in the download, along with additional ways you can incorporate the activity into your curriculum.



Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

3. And who doesn't love BINGO? This is a variation from the traditional, and I certainly did not come up with the idea. I am sure I picked it up early in my teaching career somewhere, but I've included a couple of templates that I did create. And because each of us differ, I also included a blank template.

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The Collage Mobile - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlThe Collage Mobile - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlIcebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

 4. Last year I blogged about my collage mobile activity, which actually takes longer than a traditional icebreaker and it is a priced item. But it is another great activity my students have enjoyed.



Create a Meme - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
 
5. Create a Meme: This is a new activity I uploaded this week to guide students to create their own meme. (It is priced.) The lesson goes over what a meme is, characteristics of memes, and loads of examples--most that are hilarious! It includes a 55-slide presentation and several student templates. I want teachers to be able to use my activities more than just once a year, so this has additional ways to incorporate the meme into your curriculum: research project, literature/history connection,  and so on.

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Use Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

6. Welcome to Class Word Cloud:  In the spring I blogged about using your class list to make a nice end-of-the-year word cloud (On Wordle.net or Tagxedo.com). Though it was an idea for graduates, why not make a word cloud of your new group of students' names to welcome them to your room?


Use Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.htmlUse Tagxedo or Wordle - Icebreaker ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html

7. "Me" Poem Word Cloud: In April 2011 I showed you how to make a character word cloud on my other blog, Hunger Games Lessons. In my poetry unit I have my students create "me" poems (or "I am", "bio" poems), then have them paste their poems into Wordle or Tagxedo. Instead of doing this during the poetry unit or for a character, you could have your students do this activity as a way to get to know one another. Have them print and hang in the room for their classmates to see.
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CLASSROOM RULES & PROCEDURES

See another post I have on this topic HERE.
8 Awesome Ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
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8. Can I Chew Gum in Class? How many times have you heard that question on the first day of school? I always hated going over the rules and procedures because it always took so long and students were zoned out. I would explain that cell phones were not allowed and a minute later a student would ask if she could have her cell phone. Ugh!

8 Awesome Ideas for back to school. From: http://www.traceeorman.com/2012/07/back-to-school-activities-to-inspire.html
This prompted me to create an activity that was student-led and more fun as we go over the rules and classroom procedures. I like to have students read the statements aloud, then they search the school handbook for the answers. If it's something not in the handbook, I'll have them guess the answer, or give it to them to record on the handout. (Writing it out helps them remember. Then they keep it in their class folder so if they forget and happen to ask if they can have gum, I'll tell them to refer to their notes from the first day.) I always have plenty of volunteers to read the statements because I wrote them in "teenage" lingo--basically quoting questions my own students have asked year after year. However, it is editable so you can customize it for your classroom and school. And because I am always curious about how others are running their classrooms (am I too strict? too lax?), I included the answers I give my students. If you are a first-year middle- or high-school teacher, this will be very helpful.

I hope you find some useful activities for your first week of school. And make sure you enjoy the rest of your summer! :)

Check out more activities and ideas in my teacher store on Teachers Pay Teachers:

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