Three First Day Updates

One: here’s the original Who I Am AppleWorks file. I realize no one uses AppleWorks. More people skate on rollerblades nowadays than use AppleWorks but I don’t know of any alternatives except Pages which (sorry, Tim) scares me.

Two: I realize this blog carries with it a self-assured vibe which some find smelly and unearned. I want to admit again that the first day of school makes me feel woozy and weak. I have no answers, only activities which have sucked less than others.

The only thing I know for sure is that my kids will work from bell to bell. I’ll give them index cards at the start of class. They’ll find their seats. There will be questions on the overhead. Whatever activities we do, I’ll cross my fingers on the not-sucking issue, but we’ll be doing them until the very end of class. This matters so much. Only the rest of the year depends on it.

Three, Alice updated the first day wiki with some cool PowerPoint slides for high turnover classes. That’s it. That’s the wisdom of crowds. Two people. Me and her. Intertubes 2.0 fails me. Back to my cave.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Strange, I threw it at Pages, but it wasn’t having any of it ‘The AppleWorks document has an unsupported file type.’ Whatever that means. So I guess everyone will have to go and get a copy of AppleWorks now!

    And there was me going to prove you wrong about the power of ‘tinternet. Drat.

    Still, I’ll add some stuff to the History section of the wiki when I get round to fishing it out next week sometimes. Don’t give up on it just yet. That’s the problem with people today I suppose, they just want instant gratification ;0)

  2. My suggestion is to save the image from the other post and (if you have Windows) right click on it and hit print. Set it to a full page. It comes out a little bit blurry, but readable.

  3. Oh, well if we’re just looking to print at high-res, I linked up a pdf which oughtta be sufficient. You just can’t change any of my presets, which is lame.

  4. Dan, those PowerPoints can also be used in non-high turnover classes, but the format makes it handy to show to new kids.

    I’m sorry that people are not participating in this. I’m having a great time looking at your materials. Come on folks, this is a community, pitch in and share your stuff!

    I’m curious about something and I’ll put a page up on the wiki for it, what kind of “rules” do people have for their classes, are they general principals or more detailed procedural lists? I’d love to see examples of rules, and how they are taught.

    I have to redo all the PowerPoints I posted because I’m switching from a fifth grade class to Computers for 1-6th grade. I’ll get those up when I’m done with it.

  5. Hey Dan,

    Love the idea – would you consider also putting up a general advice section (maybe less classroom-specific and more of a “general functioning” tips, tricks, and hints type of thing) for new teachers? Maybe a “Stuff Nobody Told Us” section? It moves away a bit from the procedural focus of your wiki, but it could still be relevant.

    I’m happy to set it up and start it off on your wiki if you’re OK with it. If you think it’s too off-topic, that’s cool too. I’ll be adding to the Language section this weekend regardless.

  6. Damian: As I’m reading your comment (and thinking over the wealth of insights Dan has shared here on the blog since way-back-when), it dawns on me that a “Stuff Nobody Told Us” would make a great blog for a collection of 2-5 year experienced teachers (obvious suggestion to use blog)…and a really cool group-publishing project with a collection of short vignettes and tips and case studies that heads straight to and then on over to and straight into the hearts and minds of educators around the planet (2.0 and olde skool alike).

    Just a thought. But the phrase you used to ask Dan for some insights would be a great project for YOU to spearhead. Put out a 1-page concept piece that invites relatively ‘new’ teachers to contribute their stories, put it into a PDF or head to, have Dan write up an intro (or someone else), and then publish that bad-boy.

    Seems a website/blog where any ‘new’ teacher could pose Q’s and any relatively ‘new’ teacher (years 2-5, maybe) could offer insights/answers/suggestions/stories in return might be of value to a much larger audience over time…and be worth a great deal of attention/praise in a relatively short period of time.

    Just a thought. A thought I’d run with if I weren’t some cranky 10+ year teacher fondly remembering back to way-back-when for my own stories.

    Cheers to ya,

  7. Great idea, Damian. New teacher advice felt like a larger issue than first day procedures, though, so I set up The New Teacher Wiki (I know … these titles just write themselves) and tossed a link to our First Day Wiki. Go nuts. I’ll be along shortly.

    Christian, great idea. Motivation high, disposable time low. Dunno how you and others stay up as late as you do but that’d solve plenty of my time management issues.

  8. @Christian – I’m in the same boat as Dan – great idea, but I am heartbreakingly low on free time at the moment. I have to plead ignorance as to (and I thought I was so 2.0!), so I’ll check it out. I’m not writing the idea off, just putting it off. It already has it’s own spot on my MindMeister, though, so if you’re interested in doing this on the collaborative tip, let’s kick it around in the coming months. Maybe for the incoming crew of Fall 2008.

    @Dan – Smashing; I’ll try to put some stuff up on both this weekend. I knew I was able to add it, I just wanted to run it past you, since you’re putting it together. Didn’t want to step on any feathers or ruffle any toes.

    In all seriousness, though, if either or both of you (or anyone else) are interested in looking into this a little more deeply over the course of the coming year, I’m in. I’m starting my 8th year this year, so I’m not a total noob, and feel like we could really create a valuable resource.

  9. Be patient, this web 2.0 stuff doesn’t write itself (yet). I just chipped in on a couple of pages on your wiki. I thought about adding the now-infamous truncated tetrahedron folding scheme, but your earlier postings gave it pretty good coverage (however, I do still think that in certain settings it could be a good first-day activity).

  10. Oh definitely. That’s solid. Oh my word. Is there some reason I’m not leading off with that activity. ‘Cause they wouldn’t know some of the solids maybe?

  11. Stuff Nobody Told Us = fabulous idea! 4th year teacher myself…lots of my notes & random journal entries have been written to an imaginary noob-teacher audience.

    Free time for all = nonexistent of course…but I think that adding to those two wikis will be something to bump up a few notches on the priority list.


  12. I guess my main reason to not use the truncated tetrahedron activity is if was not in a better context (i.e., during an appropriate unit of study). I just have to decide for myself whether the scales tip in favor of using it as a really cool intro to the school year, or in favor of embedding it in a geometry unit (in my case). I’ll probably stick with the Missionaries and Cannibals problem for my sixth graders, and I quite possibly will do the paper folding with my new eighth graders (my rising seventh graders already know me and have seen both activities….) (hmm, guess that means that I need another intro for them!!!).

  13. Damian —

    Entering 11th year (plus 3+ year hiatus helping business leaders ‘learn’ as well) of classroom teaching…and still feeling more the “new teacher” oh-my butterfly dance now than what the veteran teachers oozing wisdom out of their pores seem to resonate with when I run into them.

    That being said, time never exists in adequate amount. And having more on the plate often means getting more done.

    With that in mind, if you’d be game to talk about sketching out a “Stuff Nobody Told Us” blog where brand spanking new and reasonably new teachers can share anecdotes and tips and questions to help other ‘new’ teachers makes sense of it all, I’d be game. I think a ‘newer’ teacher needs to lead the charge, of course, to give it as authentic a ring as possible, but I’d be happy to play 2nd Lieutenant to support the effort. Get in touch anytime — christianlong2000 [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk — whenever you get a chance. Let’s see if we can throw together a quick template, pose a few questions, and then throw it out to our shared networks…and see what happens.


  14. I’m no teacher but passionate about learning/educating/new media and technology (plus my business is focussing on this area) – surfed on in through Christian’s post/blog/twitter and if I have the time I’m happy to help/assist/advise…

    Great idea – easy to execute… got legs and already can imagine the impact!


    MediaSnackers Founder

  15. DK and Damian and Dan: We’re ALREADY moving forward on the “Stuff Nobody Told Us” blog project (with possible e-book end project growing out of it, and evolving over time as well).

    Damian: Regardless of time, since you sparked the idea with your turn-of-phrase and comments, consider yourself to be ‘on the team’ anytime you want to be involved. And you’ll definitely get credit in the backstory/About Page as to where the name came from.

    Dan: Can’t imagine that it’ll live up to its potential without you in the mix. Again, challenge by choice is the offer…but give it thought.

    DK: Having MediaSnackers (and network) involved will guarantee success and a spreading of the good word “across the pond” as well. Get the good folks ‘over there’ ready to submit and collaborate and spread the good word.

  16. Between the first day wiki and the 4-slides contest I’m inspired. This how I’ve started my classes for the last two years. I show a different video each time too (last year was Did You Know?). Also, having facilitated some PD for teachers recently I’ve decided the kids deserve the same kind of presentation … I’ll blog it when it’s done. Actually, I’ll slidecast it … one of my classes this semester is “high turnover.” ;-)