First Day HS Activities Linky Party

I am linking up with Carol at Real and irrational who is inviting High School Teachers to add to her First Day Activities for High School Math Teachers. ( This is really kicking my butt to remember all the years! I have notes in my planners like: Card Sort...and guess what? I have moved rooms so many times and packed up so many times, I have no idea what that means)

Here goes:  (90 minute block)


Finding your seat. I put students is groups of 4. As the students enter, they get an index card with an equation to solve or expression to reduce. Sometimes the number is related to trivia: The number of children Ms. Z has (2) , or silly, like what a golfer yells before he hits the ball. There are 8 sets, the students have to find their table and take one of the seats. It always a good idea for them to figure out if they are in the correct place with each other. The difficulty of the card relates to the subject.


Students get the mindset straight away "This is a math class and we do mathy things, even on the first day."


Students find a "mathography"
survey at their table that they can begin filling out.  Also, there are very bright card stock "calling cards, " that have my email and the class website on the front and a supply list on the back.


We all need time to find the classroom, I need to take role, I want the students to know right away that I care about who they are,  and I don't want to overwhelm the students on the first day with a big 'ol long syllabus with a bunch of dense language making their heads spin. They need to get the essentials right away.


Uncommon Commonalities:

The students make 2 concentric circles on a piece of paper. Then quarter the rings. First they write their names in each section and something unique about them. Then in the center they have to figure out something they all have in common. (No age, grade, where they live...gotta dig deeper!) We then go around the room and introduce ourselves. (I have the eldest be the speaker, the youngest be the scribe)


It is important for the students to get to know each other and I use this activity for my first seating chart.


Ignite speech. First time for this. Running with Andrew Stadel.


Why are we here? I notice and I wonder. Setting the tone of collaboration and grit, self-determination and growth mindset.


I have done many math tasks, depending on what I am teaching.

For Algebra I start with 4 fours. Students need to number their papers 0 -10. They must use exactly 4 fours and any operations to achieve the values from 0 to 10. I have them work silently at first, then in pairs, then in whole table groups. We do a whip at the end.

For Geometry and Advanced Algebra I have started with CPM's: Yarns.
Basically the students get a length of yarn per table. They then must build a square, a 5-pointed star, a square based pyramid, etc...

For Pre-Calculus we start right away with family of functions. Tell me everything you know.


Working together, working on math tasks, students get a feel for what assumed knowledge I am expecting.

Changed Actions for this fall because I am smarter and wiser and taking Jo Boaler's How to Learn Maths Class, a Stanford supported MOOC.:

Instead of the above Action, I am starting both Geometry and Advanced Algebra with a number talk. (See Jo's Class for this).


We all have something to bring to the table. Math study is fluid, not static.

Advanced Algebra Action:

I will use Math Munch's notion of Fraud from the Park City Mathematics Institute with flipping coins and cryptography.


Multiple entry points, and where's big kid panties at the same time.

Geometry Action:

I will be stealing, finding/using something from the CCSS or MTBoS

Have a great opening day and best wishes for a growth year! 

(Come back for links to my ignite speech slides, my mathography blank, and uncommon commonalities blank)

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