Saturday, July 23, 2011

Number activity for first day

I teach 7th grade math and so the first day of school can be a bit chaotic to say the least.  We always have a special bell schedule for the first day of school and our academic class times end up being shortened.  I would say that class ends up being about 20 minutes instead of the normal 55 min.  I teach four sections of math (3 regular and 1 accelerate) and I like to be consistent in what we do the first few days of school for all four classes.

A few years ago, I decided to switch up my first day game plan.  My students see seven different teachers on the first day of school and I can only imagine how overwhelming that is and how these kids are on information overload.  Students are new to our building in 7th grade and the first day all they are worried about is getting lockers opened and not getting lost.  Due to nervousness I don't know how much they are actually "listening" to what teachers are saying.

Firs Day lesson plans from last year.

For this reason I like to get them up and moving around the classroom.  I also like to have an easy and nonthreatening activity where students can participate and get to know each other in a safe and fun manner.  After a quick and fun SMARTBoard warm-up, a brief discussion on supplies needed and quick introductions, I start asking a series of questions and students move to the number that applies to them.  I actually got this idea from one of our inservice activities and adapted it for my classroom.  It was a great way to get to know more about other teachers and everyone seemed to enjoy it (and that says a lot for an inservice activity!)

The numbers 0-12+ are posted around the perimeter of my room.

A sample list of questions:
~How many pets do you have? (then I go around and ask them to tell us about them, kids love a chance to talk about their pets)
~How old are you?  (you find out the age range of your students)
~How many siblings do you have?
~What is your birth order? (this is always interesting)
~What is the month of your birthday?
~How many extracurriculars do you participate in? (sports, dance, band, academic things )  Again the kids love to tell me about how they spend their free time.  This can also clue you in to who your introverts might be.

If I did some recording of the information we could use it to make graphs.  I have never done that before, but it could be a way to extend this activity.  

This could be easily adapted for any age student.  I can see it working really well with younger students. You may decide to adapt the number range and change up questions.  

This is really the perfect easy and fun activity to start with on the first day.  I get to know way more about my students and they get a break from a day of sitting and listening to teachers bore them with information overload.

I am linking up to Fun in First's Blog.  I have a feeling most ideas will be for primary grades, but hopefully I can find something to adapt for my math class.


  1. Awesome ideas!! Thanks for linking up!

    Fun In First

  2. Great idea!!!! I love incorporating the graphing idea... I think I can find a way to do this with my 6th graders. Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I love this idea. I always feel bad for the kids on the first day, too. Plus, I'm so tired of talking when it's over!

  4. Great idea!!!! Love the extension of graphing too! Another adaptation...let the kids just pick a number and then have them tell you why that number describse them or something about them!? :)

  5. I like this idea too!! Graphing and data collection is our first chapter for math so this activity aligns perfectly with our curriculum.

  6. I love it!
    I was thinking of moving the activity to the gym where I could have students construct a number line, too. I would try to include negative numbers by asking questions like... on a scale of -10 to +10, how do you feel about heights? snakes? puppies?

    Students could take turns quickly recording information onto a large flip chart paper to be used later when we do more with graphing: pictographs, histograms, bar & circle, etc. (I haven't come up with a good line graph question yet.)

    I could also ask them to research (homework) the highest ) altitude they've ever been (with or without including a plane ride- you decide). We could indirectly measure the height of the school to help them visualize just how many schools stacked on top of each other that same altitude would be if we used ground level as 0. (This would either be for an Algebra class or an activity for later on when we do indirect measurement.)

    I could also ask about the lowest they've ever been (either altitude or better yet, below the surface- swimming). We could then visualize by measuring down from our stairway in the hallway to come close to that depth. If someone hasn't been swimming, then they would stay at the top of the stairs.

    1. I love your ideas Michelle. If you do this please come back and comment on how it all worked out.

  7. you could have the students create a numerical expression that answers questions like: How many pets do you have?

  8. Fun idea. Going to do this with my (very small) resource class. I plan to ask them a math question based on the numbers they are standing by -- for example: What is the sum of our answers? Tell me a multiplication fact that includes your number. Is your number prime or composite? What is the biggest/smallest number we can make using all of our answers?


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