Monday, August 8, 2016

Day One: Engagement Station


Tori here, from Tori Gorosave: An English Teacher's Journey. Back to School is literally right around the corner for me and to be honest, I am super excited! I miss my classroom and it the last year my youngest one will be on campus with me before he heads off to high school. Sigh. Anyway, I want to spend a few minutes and share my favorite tips and tricks for the first day of school

Nothing is more deadly to student and teacher morale than bored and disengaged students on the first day of school. The first day of school sets the tone for the rest of the year, so start your year off showing students your class will be a year full of engagement, activity, and involvement by creating stations to introduce your classroom rules, procedures, expectations, and summer reflections. 

Now, I can stand in front of my 8th graders and captivate them for an entire period, but frankly I don't always like being the center of attention and holding students' attention for that long is hard! I want my students working just as hard, if not harder, than me, and if all they are doing the first day is listening to me talk or watching my presentation, then we have a problem.

Here's a preview of how I conduct my first day of class. I assign five mini assignments via stations to my students.  The stations can be completed in small groups, individually, or even presented by the teacher in eight minute segments. I have classes that range from 32-40 students, so I set up two table groups per station so I don't have groups larger than four students. I create a placard title for each station, place a task card or direction sheet next to the placard, plenty of paper or assignment sheets (depending on the task), and a completed sample which is all about me. I let my kids choose their groups of four and sit at a station (it doesn't matter what order they complete the stations in). I set my timer for eight minutes and display it under my ELMO so the class can see how much time they have. Once my timer goes off, students have thirty seconds to get up and rotate to the next station. I usually set my stations up clockwise since I give them such a limited amount of time to rotate. I then repeat the process until all groups have hit all five stations (about 45 minutes). Time flies! It is amazing to have students suffering from shock and awe on the first day once the timer goes off for the last station and students have to start collecting their work and prepare to head on to their next class!

Here is a breakdown of the five stations I use on the first day of school:
Station 1 is a syllabus scavenger hunt. I designed my syllabus to only including content I thought was imperative. I formatted my syllabus like an infographic to make it more visually appealing and capture student and parent attention right off the bat. 

For the syllabus scavenger hunt, I create questions focusing on specific areas of my syllabus. Students need to use the syllabus to answer the questions on a task sheet. 

To get students thinking ahead, Station 2 is a "Twitter Goals" activity. Students are asked to create one goal for my class for the present year, one overall education goal for the year, and one personal / family goal for the year. They explain these goals in 140 characters or less and complete them on a assignment sheet by filling out Twitter message bubbles.  
Reflecting upon and sharing highlights of their summer is one of my students favorite activities. Station 3, "My Summer in Pictures" requires students to choose three pictures to showcase their summer. The pictures can be snapshots from their phone or computer, or generic symbols that represent a person, place, thing, or idea. Underneath each picture, I have students write a caption explaining the significance of the picture.  My students love to complete Station 3 digitally, but many students also create beautiful scrapbook pages. I have students brainstorm their ideas during class station time, but they create the final product at home.
Again because I wanted to have students introduce themselves to me right away, at Station 4 students describe themselves as an emoji. I have a few lists of emojis laid out on the table, but most students are so familiar with emojis that they rarely reference the lists. To complete this station, students choose their emoji and draw it (or if you are digital they can just copy and paste the emoji onto a slide), underneath the emoji they have to demonstrate rockin' vocabulary and choose an adjective that best describes them (it should coincide with the emoji), lastly I have my students write a paragraph explaining how the emoji and adjective describe them. This is such a neat way to get to know a student from their personal perspective.
The final station, Station 5, consists of a "Student Resume." I have a stack of resume task sheets laid out on the table, and students grab one and complete the sections. This resume provides me with parent contact information (it is amazing how often the info on here provides me with working contact numbers where as the office emergency cards don't), student expectations of me, the grades students earned the previous year, a list of my students favorite things, etc. 

That sums up how I use stations to run my first day of school. If you want to use these stations ideas in your class, head on over to my TpT store and grab a set of Back to School Task Cards for yourself.

Have an amazing school year!


3 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Love it! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Love this idea! I remember last year I kept apologizing for talking so much and assuring them it would not always be that way. Will have to try this out instead!!

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  3. Great ideas! I just saved this in my Pinterest collection.

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