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Teaching Tip: First Day of Class Activities

January 13, 2013

professorThere’s no discounting the importance of the first day of class, writes teaching expert Dr. Maryellen Weimer in Faculty Focus (Jan.9, 2013).  What happens that day can set the tone for the rest of the course. Here are 2 activities for using that first day of class to emphasize the importance of learning and the responsibility students share for shaping the classroom environment.

Best and Worst Classes — In this activity, you write on the board: “The best class I’ve ever had” and underneath it “What the teacher did” and below that “What the students did.” On another section you write “The worst class I’ve ever had” and then the same two items beneath. Ask students to share their experiences, without naming the course or teacher, and begin filling in the grid based on what they call out. In 10 minutes or less, two very different class portraits emerge. Then move to the “best class” section of the board and tell students: “this is the class I want to teach, but I can’t do it alone. Together we have the power to make this one of those best class experiences.”

First Day Graffiti —  Flip charts with markers beneath are placed around the classroom. Each chart has a different sentence stem. Here are a few examples: “I learn best in classes where the teacher ___” “Students in courses help me learn when they___” “I am most likely to participate in classes when___” “Here’s something that makes it hard to learn in a course: _____” “Here’s something that makes it easy to learn in a course: ____” Students are invited to walk around the room and write responses, chatting with each other and the teacher as they do. After there are comments on every flip chart, the teacher walks to each one and talks a bit about one or two of the responses.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael D. permalink
    March 27, 2013 10:57 pm

    I think these “First Day of Class Activities” are terrific! It makes so much sense because every class is and should be different. I tell my students, “I’m not here to tell you “WHAT” to think; I’m here to teach you “HOW” to think. I want my students to be creative and enjoy my classes, and I also want them to learn. If I understand what makes them tick, (and what does not), I can be more effective. I think I will be using these techniques in all of my future classes (including my online classes!

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