Monday, August 16, 2010

What do you do on the first day?

I always struggle thinking up interesting activities for back to school, day one. I used to be kind of a slavedriver and make my students write an essay; no, not "What I Did This Summer," but more like a getting-to-know-you kind of thing. I wrote one to introduce myself. Kind of corny, I know. Harry Wong stresses that if you want students to take your class seriously and work hard, you should make them work on the first day and save the boring rules, etc. for another time. No "fun" stuff either. One year I just got tired of making them do something "serious" and had students get into groups of two and three to brainstorm a list of story titles. The only requirement was make sure it's a title that would attract interest. Then, they actually wrote the story as a group. When I first experienced this activity the teacher, Sheila Schwartz, had us write the story directly onto origami paper. If we decided the story stunk at the end, we could fold it into a swan or a hat or something. Brilliant stuff. Every writer should toy with the idea of stocking their printer with origami paper.

What do you do on day one? What's the tone you shoot for, and how do you get it?

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