You can use the day to discuss social contract and set up your class expectations for how students interact with each other, with the teacher,and with outsiders. I've done that in the past. BUT....
About three years ago, I got really tired of spending the first day of school talking TO the students, and I tried to put myself in their shoes...listening to seven teachers go over rules, procedures, etc. I decided there had to be something better. So I rethought Harry Wong's "First Days of School" and set up a "center" lesson for my first day with 8th graders.
I have 7 stations for my regular classes and 8 for my Pre-AP classes that are rotational. I give each student about 5-6 minutes and a blank chart to complete as they "analyze" each center. There's a section for the question to be written in and a place for their answer. Their homework is to take the chart home, discuss with their parents, to sign and have parents sign and bring back the next day.
Each center has a focus question and artifacts that when examined can answer the question:
1. Who is my teacher, and what is she like? Pictures of me in 8th grade, family members, etc., former student evaluations, some high school and college report cards (both good and bad), post cards of where I went over the summer, diplomas, awards, certificates, etc.
2. What will I be studying this year? Laptop with PowerPoint overview of the year.
3. What are the class rules, procedures, and expectations? Previous years' contracts, discipline referrals, pictures of where to turn in work, etc.
4. What projects will I do this year? Samples of student work from previous years.
5. What is most important in this class? Vocabulary glossaries, former students' "words of wisdom."
6. How do I stay organized for this class? Former student spirals and agendas.
7. What do tests look like? Copies of past state exams, teacher tests and quizzes.
8. (For Pre-AP only) What's different about Pre-AP in SS? Novels they will read, dialectical journals, laptop with videos of former student productions. DBQs!
I stop class about 5-7 minutes before the bell and either have kids share about the station they're at or make sure they know the answers to all the questions.
I actually love doing this - I don't go home totally exhausted the first day, and it's a signal to the kids that THEY have to do something everyday - kind of sets the pace for the year.
Hope this helps!
This is an AWESOME idea! I am already looking into what I want the stations to be! Thank you so much for sharing.
A few years ago, (I stole this idea from a D. Duez), I developed a back to school video with the rules and other info to acclimate them with my classroom environment. Here is mine. And then went a head with the first lesson on culture & human beginnings. I'm thinking that I will do this again this year b/c I have so much to teach and want to start day 1 with content. I will still go over the rules and procedures everyday, I just won't spend a long time talking and talking and talking about it.
Here was my video: http://vimeo.com/1501002
Here are my friend David's videos: http://www.mrduez.com/p/what-is-world-history-pre-ap.html Here are some of his older videos: http://www.mrduez.com/2009/08/first-day-video-introduction.html
I created a unit for the start of the school year that is based on our approach at TCI and incorporates some of the ideas found in The First Days of School by Harry Wong. These lessons are free. You can alter or change anything you need. By the way, the second lesson in the unit is on the topic of Interactive Student Notebooks, which we are most famous for.
Here's the link to the complete unit: http://teachergenius.teachtci.com/basic-training-starting-the-schoo...
You'll also find a ton of other great resources where this link takes you. Most are submitted from teachers in the trenches and many are topical to the notebook, web tools, and many other important issues.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide in terms of resources: firstname.lastname@example.org or @Brian_ThomasTCI on Twitter.
I read "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" by Jon Sciezca (http://www.jsworldwide.com/) as the very first impression of class and me as a teacher. It dives into the concept of perspective, which is crucial in my class. I have them sit on the floor for story time (these are 8th graders) and ask them why I would choose the book. It allows us to hit t he ground running. I do all of the rules stuff in a reading and online activity - it's not rocket science.