The first day is always very exciting and filled with opportunity! I usually begin the year by taking a few minutes to introduce myself (using this About Me powerpoint), give a few very quick biographical facts, and communicate my vision for this upcoming year. It is important to give students some information about yourself and convey your excitement about teaching mathematics and the upcoming school year!
We will go into more details about procedure, policies, and topic of study on another day, but I like to give a quick overview of what we will be doing together. I also like to tell students what I envision our classroom being; we cannot achieve this unless everyone knows what we are striving towards! We have a half-day of school on the first day, so it is important to make this 25 minute class period set the tone for the rest of the year.
On the first day of school, I put up a seating chart on the SMART Board as they walk into the room. As you can see in the seating chart, students are either seated in groups of four or groups of three.
I got the idea for this icebreaker from Dan Meyer's blog. It is a great way to start the year!
For this icebreaker, each group of four is given the First Day Icebreaker worksheet. Each student should choose a point on the graph and write his or her name next to that point. After that is completed, explain that they are to label the axes so that their placement on the coordinate plane makes sense! That's it - the directions are simple, but it will require students to give information about themselves and get to know their group members. Remind students that the information they give should be something that they feel comfortable sharing to the entire class. And, it must be school appropriate. I also say that age and physical attributes are too boring and are off limits. They must be more creative than that. Here is an example of one possible way a group could label the axes.
This task is not difficult; students must merely share attributes about themselves that they inherently know. However, it can be time consuming to discover labels for the x- and y-axis that work for all four students. Thus, this is really an exercise in perseverance. Students cannot give up - they must keep working until they find categories that work for their group.
This is my favorite part of this ice breaker - it establishes a culture of sticking with it and not giving up that will translate to the mathematical work they will do throughout the year.
Each group of four will share their coordinate plane with the rest of the class. I would have the whole group go to the front of the class and present it. After a group member explains what each axis represents, each group member can introduce themselves to the class and then give the coordinates of their ordered pair. This is a great way to get to know your class and to learn a little bit about each student.