Blog Post

First Day Policies and Activities

Below is a list of rules that I plan to give to my students on the first day of class to try to prevent some of the behaviors that bothered me last semester from occurring again during the upcoming semester.  If the tactics in the handout seem a little extreme, good, I mean them to be.  I want students to realize that certain behaviors have consequences, both for the low achieving students and the high achieving students, both at school and at home.  I know that I will not get through to every student, but if you like my handout, feel free to tell some of the stories in your own classroom.

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As for how I am going to present the rules on the first day of class, I am going to use the grid below.  The students will be given a blank version to fill out while I am giving an overview of the course policies.  I plan to give this to the students before I even pass out the syllabus.  So, the first piece of paper the students will receive from me is a sheet of paper that they have to take notes on.  I hope that this will instill in them the importance I place on taking notes in class, as last semester I had way too many students who did not take notes and then when they did not understand how to do a problem, wanted me to redo the entire examples for them.  By the way, I got the idea for the grid from Dan Meyer’s First Day Wiki.  He has example of one that he uses in a high school geometry class there.   

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Another thing that I am going to do on the first day of class is the coin problems that are listed below.  I got this idea from last year’s MichMATYC Fall Conference.  The idea is to give students logic problems to work on in small groups on the first day of class so that they can get a feel for working in groups in a less intimidating setting.  I hope that this activity will help instill in my students the importance that I place on group work and participation in class.  I really believe that students learn the most when they are given the time and opportunity to explain the material to each other during class.  And for your convenience, the answers to the problems are on the second page if you want to use them in your own class.  I actually got my selection of five coin problems from a website of multiple coin puzzles. 

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For those of you teaching statistics, you may be interested in Sugar Coated Statistics or this blog post from the Sage Statistical Blog on Starting it Out Right.

I hope you enjoy your semester!

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

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