Thursday, July 24, 2014

First Day of School Activity AND Blog Hop

On my way to the grocery store this morning I drove by our local high school. I was rather shocked to see that the parking lot -which has been empty for the past month or so- was packed full of cards. Seeing that parking lot made me realize - it's that time of year again. The time of year when stores stock up on #2 pencils, scissors, paper, notebooks, binders, glue, and more! The time when all of the great children's clothing stores (yes, I'm talking about Target, Kohl's & The Children's Place!) send out coupons and advertisements trying to convince you that your children's wardrobe needs updating. It's.....drum roll please.....BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!

Here in Alabama kids start back August 13th. That's just a little under 3weeks from today! Eeeek!!! A couple of friends and I decided that in honor of this *special* time of year, we would have a blog hop. This hop is dedicated to first day of school activities. Hopefully we can make your first day of school a little easier! This hop is hosted by:

Now to the good stuff! I am a strong believe in getting students used to YOUR teaching style ASAP. Part of doing that is introducing your students to the procedures you expect them to follow when class time includes activities. Like I've said before, I am a huge fan of task cards! I use task cards all the time in the classroom. I use them as centers, as whole group activities, or for individual practice. Every student sitting in my classroom is going to see task cards at some point in time. Well, what better time is there than the first day of school to expose students to task cards? I created a set of task cards called "Getting to Know Your Math Students" which can be found as a free download in my teachers pay teachers store by clicking the picture below. (If you don't teach math - keep reading for an editable version!!) 
Obviously, there are a lot of secondary teachers who do not teach math. I wanted to share this back to school activity with everyone, so I created an editable version of these cards for you too! They are not as colorful (because clip artists do not like us to share their clip art that way) but they still make a great back to school activity! These are in a PowerPoint presentation that allows you to edit the questions. To download the file click on the link below. A file sharing site called DropBox will open. and you can download the editable PowerPoint to your computer!

So, now everyone should have access to the cards (yay!!) There are 16 cards in this set and a recording sheet. The cards ask students things that will help you understand them better. Questions include:

  • what was your favorite class last year?
  • what do you like about math?   ***you can change this to ELA, science, social studies, etc
  • what did you like the most about the math class you were in last year?
  • what did you like the least?

I feel like the easiest way to introduce task cards that are open ended like this is to use them in centers. When class size is large, but classroom size is small, taping things to the wall creates easy, usable centers. Depending on how your administration feels about students working in the halls - you could even tape a few outside of the classroom!

Once you have your stations situated try this: 

  • Give each student a recording sheet
  • Divide students in groups of 2-3
  • Give students explicit directions on what they are expected to do
  • Assign each group a starting point (Group A starts at question 1. Group B - question 2, etc)
  • Set a timer for a minute, and tell students to begin answering the question in front of them
  • When the timer rings, each group moves on to the next card

If you time is limited this could easily be made into a 2-day activity. Simply have students complete 8 questions the first day, 8 the second. 

Be prepared for a little chaos! This may be new to your students. Sadly, not every teacher is as cool as you and let's them move around the room with a partner. Things may get loud and you may have to remind students that moving does not mean talking loudly - quiet, controlled talking/reading is good! Loud noise may bring unexpected guests into the room (and no one wants that new AP to catch them with an out of control class!) Remind students that in order to do fun things in your class they need to respect each other and follow directions. 

At the end of the day this activity will hopefully allow you to get a better understanding of who your students are, what they want to be, along with more importantly letting you know how they feel about your subject matter and how you can help support them this year! An added bonus is that your students were able to experience task cards right away in a relaxed environment. When you pull some out the 2nd week of school on trigonometric ratios they wont have a "what are those?" reaction - they'll recognize them and already understand some of your expectations for using the cards. In other words -- they'll be partially trained already! Woot woot!!  

If you have any questions, comments, problems downloading the editable version, please let me know either by commenting below, or emailing me at: I truly hope this helps you at least a little bit! I hope everyone of you have a wonderful, interactive & fun school year! Check out the links below for more first day of school activities!


  1. It sounds like you have a fun math class. I'm glad to have found you through the blog hop.
    Artistry of Education

    1. We try to have fun. It definitely makes those long winter days seem shorter!

  2. Task cards are so much fun. It is great to read about older students and their reactions as well. Thanks for sharing the editable cards.

    Charlene/Diamond Mom/Diamond Mom's Treasury

    1. I agree! Hope you can use the cards :)

  3. I love the idea of getting kids used to your own personal teaching style, and by reflecting on this concept it helps me seriously think about what aspects of my teaching are great for kids, and what personal quirks I might have that should be shelved. Thanks for sharing!

    1. The first school I taught at expected us to spend the entire first week of school reviewing school and class policies. Needless to say after that first super boring week, it was really hard to get the kids on the schedule I needed them to be on! :)

  4. Thanks for sharing your tips and resource! Thanks for making it editable!

  5. Thanks for sharing about math task cards. I've never used task cards, but this has got me thinking about exploring it. Glad you're part of the TBTS blog hop too!
    First Grade Found Me

    1. You should try task cards. They are easy to create & easy to use!