First Day!

Today was a great day! I was very excited to get to see my students after a long break, and, though I was somewhat anxious about the new classroom dynamics, I was amazed at how the day went.
Typically, the first day in a class can be very boring – going over expectations and the like – but I really wanted to jazz it up for the students.
For Learning Cycle (LC) 1, students completed a Student Information Sheet and we went over the important items from the syllabus. In looking at the expectations, I had the students tell me what they thought my expectations for behavior and rules were before I told them. Every reasonable response earned a ticket and positive verbal praise. Students freaked out about how many rules I had, but they were surprised to see I only have three simple expectations: Respect yourself; Respect others; Respect our community. We then looked over a User’s Guide with if/then statements for procedural situations which might come up in class. The students seemed to appreciate the effort I took. One even commented that she liked having three plain rules and a “creative” User’s Guide.
For LC 2, we needed to work from the beginning to get the vocabulary terms mastered. In planning, we analyzed previous testing data and determined our students did not have the basic knowledge of academic vocabulary associated with English I. While other teachers used the flashcard template I used in the past, I wanted to do something a little more exciting with the students. After hours of work, I ended up with Essential Vocabulary Trading Cards: Basic Story Elements Edition. In short, this served as a multi-step review process in which students were assigned four terms to create a trading card about. Each student had the rubric, and for individual accountability the students were going to be scored on their cards. Then, they gathered in groups based on the words they were assigned in order to evaluate the cards and propose a “best play” card. Using the provided rubric, students then went back and tried to create the perfect “best play” to submit. The timing ran over on this so I will have to tweak my pacing for tomorrow, but I am going to collect the “best play” cards, review them, copy them, and distribute the copies to the groups. Groups will then have 3 minutes to prepare to present the trading cards and answer any questions the class might have. For an added kicker, I explained that I knew who would present which word but I was not sharing that until the presentation was called. They quickly realized it would be their task to make sure everyone in the group knew the trading cards well enough to present it since they did not know who would be called to present.

Files/Activities referenced in this blog:

1. Student Information Sheet. This can be found online at

2. User’s Guide. This can be found in two places. I have worked on it and tweaked it a little bit every year for several years. You can find it in my course syllabus (found at or in the Classroom Management Training Bundle (found at

3. Essential Vocabulary Trading Cards: Story Elements Edition. While I have uploaded the third version of this file, sometime tonight I will upload the most recent one with the tweaks from today’s implementation notes. This file will have the trading cards with terms, trading card template for you/students to list your own term, a generic lesson plan with directions, and the powerpoint file I used to model through the process and guide the completion of each step. This bundle can be found at

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