I know. *I know*. Too early, right? But Ali Grace is a go-getter.

Ok #MTBoS. What's your favorite first day of school activity? For high school. Something that helps me get to know my students??

— Ali Grace Eiland (@AGEiland) June 9, 2016

My contributions:

- Personality Coordinates Icebreaker.
- Who I Am. Return these at the end of the year for more fun. [
**2017 Aug 11**. Editable version. Thanks, Chris!] - The Collaborative Icosahedron.
- Stacking Cups.

Help the rest of us out in the comments. What do you do on the first day of school?

**2016 Jul 27**. A Collection of First Week Activities.

**2017 Aug 21**. Sarah Hagan has 21 ideas for the first week of school.

**2017 Aug 21**. YouCubed has its Week of Inspirational Math.

**2017 Aug 21**. Sara Van Der Werf’s 100 Numbers to Get Students Talking.

## 41 Comments

## Henri Picciotto

June 9, 2016 - 3:00 pm -I made some suggestions, both general and specific, in this post: http://blog.mathedpage.org/2015/08/first-day-of-school.html

## Bob Lochel

June 9, 2016 - 3:06 pm -Here on the East Coast we start after Labor Day. I have used this activity on (or near 9/11) for a few years, though you certainly use the concept earlier as an icebreaker and discuss networks / maximizing / data displays.

https://mathcoachblog.com/2013/08/07/how-are-we-connected-meaningful-adjacencies/

## Megan Schmidt

June 9, 2016 - 3:08 pm -For stats, we do a version of the American Ignorance Survey:

https://www.gapminder.org/GapminderMedia/wp-uploads/Results-from-the-Ignorance-Survey-in-the-US..pdf

Here’s a google slide document that I made: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VVqhi2-gGQOH62ow4FbgK65sPolXojoIBPuVRq_jnQ8/edit?usp=sharing

But, like everything stats related, it’s time-sensitive and I’m not sure for how many years it will still be relevant data.

## Eric Newman

June 9, 2016 - 3:16 pm -I teach 8th grade.

I’m gonna have them figure out who can make 10 stacks of 13 pennies each the fastest. Then I’m gonna rock their world with the Penny Pyramid at the end of class.

They won’t be able to wait till Day 2 to figure out how long it took to build that pyramid!

My first day rules: NO RULES. NO SYLLABUS.

## Alli George

June 9, 2016 - 3:40 pm -I always do the Marshmallow Challenge with my kids. Team building, gets them talking, sets the tone for trying/failing/trying again. Plus I can observe group and individual dynamics without them realizing what I’m looking for.

## Jim Pardun

June 9, 2016 - 3:45 pm -My Ss will join our Google Classroom and then I will push out a short article on Einstein’s brainstorm secret (see below). We will then put the ideas from the article into practice by first working individually on the following problem and then in small groups. Answers won’t be given until day 2.

“Given a circular pizza, how many pieces can be obtained by making 5 straight cuts? 10 straight cuts? 67 straight cuts?”

Here’s the article: http://creativethinking.net/einsteins-brainstorm-secret/#sthash.mlLfna4h.Wg8f6NqS.dpbs

## Dan Anderson

June 9, 2016 - 3:58 pm -Puzzlers! http://blog.recursiveprocess.com/2012/08/30/first-day-activity-puzzlers/

## Joey Kelly

June 9, 2016 - 4:14 pm -I play a game with my students.

The rules:

2 students take turns choosing numbers from 1 to 9. Each number can only be selected once. The first person to have exactly 3 numbers that add up to exactly 15 wins.

We play the game, figure out the strategy, and then try to give the game an appropriate name.

The name of the game is a surprising discovery and getting there takes a lot of discussion. It sets a good tone for the start of the year.

## Kristin Gray

June 9, 2016 - 4:15 pm -Week One: Week One — Talking Points & Math Mindset | Math Minds

https://mathmindsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/week-one-talking-points-math-mindset/

## Denise Smith

June 9, 2016 - 4:18 pm -I use Spirit Buddies and begin a set of lessons called Respecting Diversity. Information on these can be found at http://www.threeblockmodel.com

## Jon Orr

June 9, 2016 - 4:29 pm -I jump right in and complete an area problem R2D2 Post Its —- http://mrorr-isageek.com/spiralling-grade-9-applied-math/

Build team and problem solving skills from the get go!

## Jon Orr

June 9, 2016 - 4:31 pm -I always fit in “Math is Like….” Students complete the statement! Brings out all their feelings of math from the past on day 1 http://mrorr-isageek.com/math-is-like-first-day/

## Jim Doherty

June 9, 2016 - 4:57 pm -For my Geometry or Algebra II kiddos I have long used the handshake problem on day one. I find that it is easy to grasp, it is subject to a variety of approaches and it helps set a tone of conversation and collaborative problem-solving. In Geometry especially it also pops up in various forms throughout the year in a variety of different problems like diagonals in a polygon.

## Ali Grace Eiland

June 9, 2016 - 5:07 pm -SO much great stuff here. Thanks everybody!

## David Griswold

June 9, 2016 - 5:09 pm -This year I did the personality coordinates and also did a version of Which One Doesn’t Belong using groups. Pretty good and will repeat both next year.

http://davidgriswoldhh.mtbos.org/2015/08/19/first-half-day/

## Kathy Howe

June 9, 2016 - 5:21 pm -Last year I used @joboaler ‘s Week of Inspirational Math activities the whole first week. The kids loved them, the videos were a great introduction to growth mindset, the math activities were low-floor, high ceiling. I’m looking forward to doing it again. (This was in MS, not HS.)

https://www.youcubed.org/week-of-inspirational-math/

## Mathy McMatherson

June 9, 2016 - 5:51 pm -In my second year, as I was processing this question of ‘what do I do on the first day?’, I started to write the blog post that eventually became this: https://mathymcmatherson.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/live-blogging-my-first-day-activities/

In this past moment of writing that post, committing to publishing those words and those ideas for the blog-reading audience really helped me carefully plan out and justify my first day activities, which my past-self was grateful for and still informs my first few days today.

## Hilary

June 9, 2016 - 6:21 pm -This past year I used a lot of Jo Boaler’s Week in Inspirational Math. There are a plethora of activities that can be modified to different grade levels (generally intended for 3-9th I think). It brought a lot of great opportunities for collaboration and discussion into my classroom right off the bat!

(https://www.youcubed.org/week-of-inspirational-math/) –> Totally free, just have to register!

## Evan Weinberg

June 9, 2016 - 6:21 pm -I do the marshmallow challenge activity. It leads beautifully into a conversation about mindset and the role of iteration in learning.

## HL

June 9, 2016 - 6:30 pm -In precal, I spend about five minutes going over syllabi and class expectations (be responsible, be respectful, be edifying). In calculus, I spent about two minutes doing this, because they all had me the year before. Then I start teaching normal content – precal gets a review of functions and calculus talks about limits. Although reading through the comments, I’m liking the idea of talking about mindset!

## Bethany Mager

June 9, 2016 - 6:40 pm -I’ve also done stacking cups on the first day of school and Life-Size Jenga from Dane Elhert (http://wmh3acts.weebly.com/life-size-jenga.html).

The students have also completed different Desmos activities. Central Park is a good first day for HS math.

Instead of a presentation for the syllabus I’ve assigned a syllabus “scavenger hunt” that is a Google form with questions to make sure students have reviewed the syllabus on their own.

This year I *might* try to facilitate a BreakoutEDU. I’ll probably do it the second day of school with hopes it leads to team building and gives me a chance to see how students work in groups. (http://www.breakoutedu.com/).

## Myra Deister

June 9, 2016 - 7:27 pm -I use the Who I Am activity usually with a twist. The students make a video of themselves answering one of the following questions (their choice):

1. Why is it important to you to challenge yourself in math?

2. Describe your favorite math experience and why was it your favorite?

3. Describe a time you are especially proud of where you challenged yourself and explain why you are proud.

4. “I like mistakes because…”

5. “Math is important to me because…”

6. Describe a time where you struggled with a math concept and explain how you responded.

## Chris Shore

June 10, 2016 - 12:07 am -Check out my 2 blog posts on the subject:

https://mathprojects.com/2012/08/12/first-day-challenge/

And

https://mathprojects.com/2012/08/16/first-day-challenge-contd-the-4-es/%5D

Note: I now go by the 6 C’s rather than the 4 E’s, but the same concept still applies. (new post to follow soon.)

## Amanda Haskell

June 10, 2016 - 4:12 am -Next year we are doing district wide mindset work, however, in the past I have always done “would you rather”. I started with silly ones, then move to math oriented ones! Students open up real quick if they have an option to choose!

## Laura Lee

June 10, 2016 - 5:16 am -Cooperative Logic: http://www.valbec.org.au/building-strength-with-numeracy/docs/free-download/getting-started/Introducing-Co-operative-Logic.pdf

Favorite Numbers – We listen to some clips from this Radio Lab episode (http://www.radiolab.org/story/love-numbers/), talk about favorite numbers, and students design a notecard with their favorite number. I then hang these around the perimeter of my room for the year.

## Hunter Patton

June 10, 2016 - 5:30 am -I love the traffic jam task. Promotes team building, problem solving, and is easily transitioned to groups of n people on each side to intro algebra.

## Jennifer Wilson

June 10, 2016 - 6:12 am -I want them to leave class the first day realizing that not all problems only have one solution, that we can get similar answers very different ways and thus our reasons matter, and that whether or not “I” learn math better with someone than alone, “we” all have a lot to learn from each other this year.

https://easingthehurrysyndrome.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/our-first-day-message/

## Cathy Yenca

June 10, 2016 - 9:36 am -Here are some ideas from the past, but every year I change it up! Thankful for some fresh resources here. Thanks all!

http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/2013/08/first-days-favorites/

http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/2014/06/i-already-know-what-i-want-to-do-on-the-first-day-of-school/

http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/2014/08/so-i-stole-an-idea-from-dan-meyer-shocker/

## Mitch vitale

June 10, 2016 - 12:07 pm -In high school I used to ask “what do you want to be when you

grow up?”, which didn’t work out too well. So now I ask ” what is your pet peeve?” ( I write it down on the attendance list) Gets me to know them a little deeper, some more than others. Then the last day of school I ask them if they remember what they said, which gives a few laughs.

## Amy Cappiello

June 10, 2016 - 3:57 pm -I have done the cup stacking to start Algebra 2, and the kids love it. It breaks the ice and has them collaborating and reviewing algebra 1 right at the get go. In my calculus class, I break them into groups and choose one person from each group to put his back to the board. I then go through a series of functions that group members describe so that the person not looking can draw it. Also a great ice breaker and review of functions as well as an activity to use math vocabulary and for me to gauge what they are coming in with.

## Leigh Nataro

June 10, 2016 - 8:05 pm -Do a simulation with Monty Hall’s Let’s Make a Deal. Play the game a few times with the kids. Then, have them play the game in pairs. Have half of the pairs you the Stay strategy and have the pairs use a Switch strategy. Get a simulated probability of winning for each. Then, discuss the theoretical probability and why it is always better to switch.

Here is a great video explaining it.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lb-6rxZxx0

## Chester Draws

June 10, 2016 - 11:37 pm -HL — very similar to you. We get into it straight away, because I want to set an expectation that Maths is about Maths.

That said I almost always

endthose initial periods with something different. They aren’t yet back into concentrating for long periods, so we wind down a bit early.## Glenn Waddell

June 11, 2016 - 3:30 pm -This is what I did for several years. No syllabus, no sitting there listening to me, just a project, deep thinking, and hands on.

http://blog.mrwaddell.net/archives/1020

## John Chapin

June 12, 2016 - 5:31 am -Don’t forget that the students want to know something about you too! I stole this from the teacher of the year here in VA:

PICK THE LIE: He would put a slide up on the board with cool/crazy/interesting things he had done (run the Boston marathon, went on a 10 day dogsled trip) with one of them made up and ask the students to pick out which one was made up.

Different things stand out for different students, but they remember things from the slide. It’s great becomes it gives the students hooks to start to get to know you.

John

## Sandra Baggett

June 13, 2016 - 11:50 am -7th and 8th grade:

Use four 4s to make equations equal to each number 1 thru 20. I also introduce a growth mindset. I use material from youcubed.org

## Laura

June 14, 2016 - 7:20 am -Changes year to year, but here are the must-haves for my first day activity these days in Math:

– problem-based learning (even better if it’s 3 act math style w/ a hands-on data collection/measuring component)

– students placed in visibly random groups

– groups solving on vertical non-permanent surfaces

All of which sets the tone for the most important routines & structures in my class for the semester.

## Xavier Bordoy

June 14, 2016 - 12:38 pm -With the perspective of students of boring classes:

– sitting

– say “yes” in attend list

– presentation of Mr X: name, email, etc.

– Mr X says to us that his topic is subject is the best of the world.

What do students do in first day in school *in interesting class*?

## Dan Meyer

June 20, 2016 - 4:24 pm -Tina Cardone is way ahead of us.

## Corinne Muir

August 8, 2017 - 7:34 am -For the fist day of school, I like to use some problems that would require students to work in groups and have them solve on the windows or whiteboards because it gets them up and moving. They also have to create their own word problem and go and solve another group’s.