Saturday, August 5, 2017

Get-to-Know-You Activities for Secondary Language Arts Class

The first day of school is equally my favorite and least favorite day of the entire school year. It's my favorite because there's just something magical about a fresh new start in a clean, welcoming classroom full of new students that I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting. It's my least favorite because even after nine years of teaching, I still get major anxiety and butterflies right before I meet said students. 😅

Over the years I've tried to minimize that anxiety by making sure I have my first day planned in a way that will show students my teaching style and procedures right from the beginning. As always, I try to blend fun with rigor and make sure my students' voices are heard. 

Here are some fun get-to-know-you activities for your first day: 

1. Past, Present, and Future Book Banners: Put old books or dictionaries to use by creating word search buntings. This is a simple, fun, and decorative get-to-know-you that students love. All I did was tell them to rip a page from a dictionary (old books would work too) and draw attention to three words to represent their past, present, and future in an artistic way. You can also do something like "three words to describe you" or "three words that you connect with" etc. 

2. English Language Arts and Literature Specific Profiles- I designed this fun little ELA profile page for my email subscribers as a back-to-school gift. One is for English Language Arts classes and the other is for Literature classes. I love that it highlights what ELA class is all about while also providing quirky details about students. 

If you aren't on my email list and would like to receive this gift, you can sign up below. This resource will be delivered to your email!

3. A Digital Student Infographic and Informational Text- I added this to my first day activities last year because my school recently went 1:1, and I wanted to get my students started with our technology procedures from the very first day. Plus, this serves as a quick and visual way to learn about my students and assess their informational text reading skills.

You can find this here: Student Infographics

You can see this digital resource in action here: 

As a last note about first-day activities, I would like to add that I've been using stations on the first day of school for two years now. I have become a huge cheerleader for stations in secondary classrooms, so I want to show my students how active my class will be from day one. We spend about 5 minutes on each station so that only half the class is taken up with these activities. The other half of class is spent filling out their infographic (see above) and becoming familiar with our technology procedures. While I don't have anything formal for you to print out, here is a list of the stations I used last year. I hope that these inspire you to make some stations of your own!

Station 1: Book Banner (see above)
Station 2: DO/WHAT with the syllabus (this is an informative reading strategy in which students list all of the verbs on one side of a T chart and explain what to do with them on the other side). You can kind of see this on my board here:
Station 3: Sign up for random things I use such as Remind101, StoryboardThat, and StoryBird
Station 4 :Fill out a learning profile or ELA profile (see above)
Station 5: Check out a book from my classroom library or discuss book recommendations with group members.
Station 6: Various tasks such as learning where things are located, getting assigned a textbook or novel, or exploring their digital notebook.

I hope that you have a great start to the year!


  1. Hello! I discovered your blog at the beginning of summer and have been loving all your great ideas. Thanks a bunch for all of your posts, and especially this helpful one for the beginning of the school year. I plan on adapting a lot of your ideas for my 1:1 7th grade class. Some of your lesson ideas are too advanced or require to much behavioral maturity for my 7th graders, but it's nice to find great ideas that I can just adapt down instead of always trying to adapt up elementary school ideas. I want to push my students as learners, and your great ideas will help me do that. Thanks again!

  2. Ashley, I would love to receive the free "ELA Profile" page. My email address is as follows:

    I couldn't find a spot to sign up for emails on this page. Thank you!

  3. These are some great ideas! I've signed up, so thanks for the freebie as well. I'm new to middle school so I'm trying to explore centers for my self contained class but funds are severely limited until pay day later this week. Any guidance you could provide would be super helpful. Thanks!

  4. Please add me:

  5. I really appreciate your work and very amazing and important information about the inspiration which have share in this blog.

  6. This is great!! Love loce loce the HP theme. Amazing!! I was wondering if you could walk me through how you conduct the stations. So you let the kids pick which station to start at and they rotate after a certain time or when they're done? Thanks!!!

  7. These are great station ideas. I never thought about about starting technology right away.

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