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What do you do on the first day of school?

New and experienced teachers alike ask themselves:
  • What do you do on the first day of school?
  • Do you make sure to get at least a little bit of math in to set the tone?
  • Is it important to start by establishing patterns of group work?
  • Is it best to spend the whole day discussing classroom policies and the reasons for them, including your expectations for how students work together, instead of doing any actual mathematics?
  • Are there any particular activities or icebreakers that work really well for you?
  • Are there any must-dos or must-avoids for that crucial first day?
Teacher2Teacher Associates and contributors in the Teachers' Lounge discussions have responded to these questions suggesting a variety of ideas.

T2T discussions about the first day of school:

Bulletin Boards
Do you have any suggestions as to what I may be able to do with my bulletin board?...view discussion>>

Classroom Openers
I need interesting ways to begin class that will get high schoolers interested....view discussion>>

First day of school
What are the must-dos or must-avoids for that crucial first day?...view discussion>>

Grading policy
I was wondering if I could get a perspective of what other teachers' grading policies are on homework....view discussion>>

New to teaching, however...older teacher
This will be the first year teaching math to grade 8. I have both math and algebra....view discussion>>

What to do the first day of school
What do other people do the first day?...view discussion>>


Ask Dr. Math resources:

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ
Print out and post a variety of these informative pages.

Why Study Math? Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ
Why do we need to learn math? When are we ever going to use it in real life? Math study tips.


Books for ideas:

Here are some suggested books available through
The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems
by Martin Gardner

Fabulous Fractions: Games, Puzzles, and Activities that Make Math Easy and Fun
by Lynette Long

The Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles
by Greg Tang, Harry Briggs (Illustrator)

Measurement Mania: Games and Activities that Make Math Easy and Fun
by Lynette Long

On Beyond a Million: An Amazing Math Journey
by David M. Schwartz, Paul Meisel (Illustrator)

Getting Younger Students Ready for School:

Back to School for Rotten Ralph
by Jack Gantos, Nicole Rubel (Illustrator)

First Day, Hooray!
by Nancy Poydar (Illustrator)

My First Day at School
by Erin B. Gathrid, Ruth Wickings (Illustrator)


Resources on the Web:

K-12 Math Problems, Puzzles, Tips & Tricks
Links to calculation tips (Beat the Calculator, Divisibility Rules, Multiplication Tips), Math Problem sets, and math number and line puzzles. ...more>>

Mathematician's Birthday Calendar by Judy Ann Brown
Celebrate mathematics through the months by remembering the birthday of your favorite mathematician. Includes a lesson idea in which students are asked to design a birthday card, write a report, identify pictures, and create a bulletin board of mathematicians on the calendar. ...more>>

Math Forum Internet Mathematics Library: Education Levels
Resources that have been collected, organized, cataloged and annotated from diverse sources.

Mathematics Interactive Quiz by Suzanne Alejandre
An activity designed to use with middle school students to introduce them to the Internet and mathematics information.

Math Forum Problems of the Week
The Math Forum's Problems of the Week Library includes engaging problems to develop problem-solving skills, mathematical communication, and topics from basic operations through calculus. [requires membership to access individual problems]

The Quiet Game by Suzanne Alejandre
An activity to use at the beginning of the school year to introduce cooperation.

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