First Day/Week of School - High School

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by EngTeacher15, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. EngTeacher15

    EngTeacher15 Companion

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    Jul 19, 2006

    Hi everyone! I'm new at posting, so bear with me. I'm a first year teacher this year and I am going to be teaching 9th grade English. I am very excited, but nervous at the same time. I am looking for good first day/week of school activities. I would like to find some good getting-to-know-you activities for the kids. I want to make sure every student knows the name of every other student in the class. I'll be giving them a "seating chart" quiz during the second week. While I student taught, I was flabbergasted by how many students did not know each other (and this was half way through the school year!) I'd appreciate any ideas/suggestions/advice! ;)

    Thanks!

    PS. If anyone else teaches freshman English, and would like to share materials, please let me know! :)
     
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  3. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    Jul 19, 2006

    Hi! I will be teaching juniors and seniors this year.... my first year, so I can understand you eagerness and nervousness. I would be interested as to how you are doing your seating chart quiz. Will this help you get to know the students as well? That is one of my fears, because I am horrible with names, HORRIBLE! I want to find an easy way to learn their names. I wish I could be more help, but hopefully we can bounce off of each other. When does school start for you. I start Aug. 9th.
     
  4. JustWondering

    JustWondering Companion

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    I remember as a student I hated the "getting to know you" activities. But that is just me! I know it is useful so that teachers can start getting names with faces and try to find some interests to utilize in the class. It just seemed like someone put out a memo: This is the getting to know you for this year! 6 times a day it was the same thing over and over! Here I go finding myself doing what I was complaining to my husband about. Almost every book or article I have read so far gives a lot of what NOT to do and not a whole lot of what TO do! Maybe spice it up into a game, the team who can remember the most about other students wins a prize? Just an idea to maybe break the "another about me sheet" routine. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do the first day as well.
     
  5. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    Ooh, Ooh, I wish I had freshmen. I remember my freshman year in high school and one of my teachers made us to a time capsule. He gave us a list of questions and we had to answer them. He kept them until our senior year and gave them to us. I still have my sheet and read it the other day. I thought it was hilarious, some of my answers.

    1. Who are your best friends?
    2. What is your favorite song(s)?
    3. What is your favorite movie?

    Those are some of the questions. You can add stuff like what college do you want to go to, etc..
     
  6. dehabel

    dehabel Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2006

    I am also a Freshman English teacher, going into my second year. Hang on tight this first year, it is quite a ride! I would love to share ideas - ideas are my strength, implementation is my weakness (as far as classroom control). I give the kids a true/false quiz about me and we all talk about the questions and such. They have a homework assignment to make me a t/f quiz about themselves, I answer hand it back, we discuss, and from that their first writing assignment is born... they pick one of their questions and write me a personal narrative.

    Go over expectations/handbook/procedures/etc. I am not so good at it yet.

    Let me know if you want to swap stuff.

    Thanks and good luck,
    Chrissy
     
  7. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    What did your t/f quiz look like? How long did it take you to answer thier t/f quizzes and how many questions were on the quiz?
     
  8. dehabel

    dehabel Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2006

    The test was just ten questions about me - I would attach it but I don't know how.

    Silly questions kind of

    I have six children.

    I am 49 years old.

    My worst fear is alligators and sharks.

    I love to fish.


    Those kind of questions. I have the kids write me 10 right back. They are super easy to grade and answer, I get them back to them the next day. They loved it last year, and the funny thing is they remembered little things about it all year long!
     
  9. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    Jul 19, 2006

    That sounds great! I might have to do that for an ice breaker.
     
  10. EngTeacher15

    EngTeacher15 Companion

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    Jul 19, 2006


    School starts for me August 16. The seating chart quiz will mainly be for them. I want to make sure they know their classmates by name, because I discovered during my student teaching that many students did not know each other's names (and I student taught seniors!) During the 2nd week of school, I'll give them a blank seating chart and they have to look around the room and fill in their classmates. I'm a first year teacher, so of course I don't know how this will work, but I want to try it.
     
  11. JustWondering

    JustWondering Companion

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    Jul 19, 2006

    I read it is better on the first day to not have them shuffling around. However they are to be seated should be easy and quick. But that is just what I read.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2006

    Absolutely.

    Have the seating chart made up and have them find their seats as they get there. Then go over it: "First row; Tom Adams, Cathy Allen..." They'll be seated by the bell.
     
  13. ktmays06

    ktmays06 Rookie

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    Jul 20, 2006

    Hi rcayia, I'm also a first year 9th grade english teacher. I too am having to solve this "getting to know you" issue. I really like the idea about a t/f quiz, but what if you have the students swap quizzes and then introduce each other using the info on the quiz. The teacher can still collect the quizzes to get the information, but the students get the practice of not only speaking in front of the class (which I want them to do all year), but also working together.

    As far as a seating chart, I'm going to start out the year with everyone in alphabetical order (boring, I know, but convenient). When they walk in the room on the first day, each desk will have a folder with their last names written in big letters on the front cover. The students then will put their preferred name above their last, so I will know what they like to be called. These folders are going to be their writing portfolios for the year, they will stay in the room, and I'll have easy access to them when I need them.

    Its comforting to have another person in my situation on here, so if you ever want to swap ideas or resources, feel free to contact me!

    Good Luck!
     
  14. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2006

    Dp you know what you will be teaching this year, unit-wise? I taught ninth grade last year (loved it!). I have about 5 binders full of stuff!
     
  15. DotyMath

    DotyMath Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2006

    First Day

    On the first day I have two decks of playing cards. I take one set and tape a card to each desk. As each student enters the room, they pick a card from the deck that I have, which sends them to a certain desk. There is an assignment on the board - usually to pick up a worksheet of sentence finishers from the front of the room. I can go over the attendance sheet while they are working on the sentence finishers. I usually use the cards for a couple of days - my classes are always changing the first couple of days. After my class roll has been finalized, I work on a seating chart.

    ALSO - I have used post-it notes taped to desks with the beginnings of sentences on them like "My locker is" and "Math smells like". Every class period adds to the post-its and by the end of the day I usually get some pretty creative answers. :)

    I teach 7th/8th graders, and they like the playing card idea. They get to try out different seats and may or may not be sitting next to their friends. I write my last name in permanent marker on the back of each card to discourage stealing.
     
  16. JustWondering

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    Jul 23, 2006

    Do you fill in the seating chart as you hand out the cards to avoid card swaping?
     
  17. EngTeacher15

    EngTeacher15 Companion

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    Jul 23, 2006

    I am teaching Romeo & Juliet, The Odyssey, To Kill a Mockingbird, Night, a Short Story unit, and a Poetry unit! :)
     
  18. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    Ah! I also taught Romeo and Juliet, a short story unit and a poetry unit. I wanted to teach To Kill a Mockingbird, so I have the materials, and I taught The Odyssey when I student taught 6th grade (it was a younger version). Let me know if you need anything!
     
  19. EngTeacher15

    EngTeacher15 Companion

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    Yes, I'd LOVE to take a look at anything you have to offer! I sent you my email address in a private message! :) THANKS!!
     
  20. Teacher 218

    Teacher 218 Rookie

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    Two ideas. One: You can play two truths and one lie, where students have to guess which is the lie. Two: I have a terrible time remembering names, so my kids challenged me to the following. Go around the room, with the first person saying his/her name, then the next person has to say the first person's name and then their own. The next person has to do the first two plus their own, on so on. At the end, it's the teachers turn. I teach six classes a day, so I only did one class each day, but by the end of six days, I knew all of their names and so did they. The challenge: Do the names backwards and challenge each student to name each student in the whole class. It was fun too and didn't take much class time.
     
  21. scootie

    scootie New Member

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    Hi! I am also a first year English teacher. I'll be teaching 9th graders and 10th graders (English I and English II). My freshmen will be reading Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Odyssey while my 10th graders will read Julius Caesar, Animal Farm, Night, and Cold Sassy Tree. I'm a little anxious about the first week of school (we start on August 7th) but I loved the T/F quiz that dehabel talked about. Do you have the kids answer the questions at the beginning of class or after you've talked about yourself? I'd love to share ideas with you all!
     
  22. dehabel

    dehabel Rookie

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    I have them do it after I have talked about rules and procedures and such. Then after they answer the questions I give them the right answers at which time I tell stories that correlate with the question.

    Chrissy
     
  23. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    Sounds a lot like me!

    For 9th grade... we team with history, so I hit different cultures when the history class hits it, but I usually teach Odyssey R & J & Night also (sorry my comma button isn't working):(

    English 10 is American Lit 1865 to present..

    For warm up activities I have students introduce themselves with adjectives (gregarious Gretchen etc)

    I also have had students fill out a card with an interesting fact about themselves on there that no one knows.. and then teh next day I make a grid of all teh facts and the students have a scavenger hunt to find the student who matches that fact and fills in their name. That one is always fun.

    The one I want to try this year was in a class I just took. Everyone stands in a circle and someone asks a true/false type question and everyone it is true for stands up..

    Example: If you had a summer job stand up etc..

    that one was really fun and the students start to see similarities between them and others right away!
     
  24. irishteach

    irishteach Rookie

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    Hi all....one thing I did for a get to know you was...we had an M&M dispenser and when you hit it anywhere from 3 to 10 can come out and for each M&M the students had to tell the class something about themself. Then, I did it too. They liked it because they got candy. This was for Jrs & Seniors in high school. They said they liked it because they already know each others names (for the most part) but got to learn something about thier classmates who some might not have ever talked to otherwise. You also got a feel for who the class clown would be and such. I loved doing this. And we offered skittles for kids who don't like chocolate. Or you could just pour some candy in each students hand if you don't have a dispenser. I think I had 2 5lbs m&m bags--with LOTS of leftovers!

    If you are in a small town most of the students will know each other even as Freshmen, so don't drag out the get to know you too much.

    Also, I have the students make name plates (fold the sheet of paper in half and write thier name on the side that faces me). This way I can see thier name. They keep it in thier History folder and then put it on thier desk for the first week or two of class. By then, I'm pretty good about knowing thier names. And always do a seating chart!

    Thanks for asking this question--I'm loving the ideas!
     
  25. ErinJoey13

    ErinJoey13 New Member

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    Aug 2, 2006

    Hello High School English Teachers! I am also a first year teacher (11th and 12th) and am really glad to hear that there are others of you out there with similar concerns. I love all of your getting to know you ideas-I think that too much time on that stuff gets to be a little much but agree that it is necessary.

    Also, as far as a syllabus goes, how many rules do you enforce? I don't want to over do it but I have seen, through student teaching, that lack of structure only leads to chaos. And, what rules do you find most important? Thanks so much. I am looking forward to chatting with you.

    P.S. I also am teaching To Kill a Mockingbird and have taught The Odyssey, if anyone is interested! :)
     
  26. MickeyMFan

    MickeyMFan New Member

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    New to English too!

    Hey all--I am also new to the regular HS English world. This will be my first year teaching regular 9th and 10th grade English. I would love to swap ideas with anyone! For the past 6 years, I have taught HS Special Ed English, so I have some materials, but I am really going to have to supplement and make my curriculum go farther with a regular class. We start school in 2 weeks, so I have a little time, but tomorrow I go in to move into my new shared room, so I am beginning to panic!

    April
     
  27. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    The most important thing to have in your classroom are procedures. If kids know what is expected of them during each part of the class, there is less chance of screwing around. Of course, rules are also important - stick with 3-5. Too many and they will forget them easily. You may forget them too!
     
  28. readakat

    readakat Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2006

    I teach 8th grade reading/Language arts and last year tried something I saw on the internet. I wrote a letter to my students about myself telling them what I was interested in at their age/ where I grew up/ extracurricular activities..etc.
    I included some of my "favorites" (Music, books, comics, movies, authors...) and things I dislike ( arrogant people, crude jokes, talking on a microphone...)
    At the end of the letter I asked each of them to write back to me and tell me all about themselves.
    The letters I received were incredible and helped me make immediate connections with each of them.
    I have already written my letter to this bunches crew and can't wait to hand it out on August 23!
    Helps to add notes on seating chart too such as 'plays trumpet'
    'shy', 'skateboarder' 'hates to read' This helps me to picture each of them.

    Best wishes to all the new teachers that responded to this prompt! This will probably be the most exciting and the most trying year of your career! Hang in there. It's worth it!
     
  29. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    Anyone done anything with Power of Mythology? (Joseph Campbell).. I saw a lot about doing a comparative of Star Wars with the Hero theme or was it the journey theme? but I don't actually have a UNIT together yet, just ideas..
     
  30. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    I did the Hero unit last year - we studied the Hero's Journey and then read myths that follow the Journey (98% do), read Rikki Tikki Tavi (following the Journey) and then watched Star Wars (again, following the Journey). I taught it in 9th grade English and the kids got into it. Although the rest of my PLC did not, I also had my students write their own myths using scenes from a calendar of random places as their settings.
     
  31. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I bought the DVD set with the interview (I had watched it on the vhs tape set that the library has, and the sound quality was poor), and I also was given the book from a retired teacher I met on freecycle.. did you use the text of the interview, or just the written part? I also have some of the parabola magazines from her (back issues) which I haven't had a chance to look through yet.


    My thinking was to have the students WATCH the interview, and then do a talk to the text of a section of the written part (from the book), investigate the standard parts of a hero's journey and then watch Star Wars, and figure out which parts (and which characters) are the different categories..

    is that sort of what you did?
    What's a PLC?

    Mythology is actually the first item listed on our curriculum guide for English 9, and this is one of the suggested materials..
     
  32. katrinkit

    katrinkit Comrade

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    I didn't use the Power of Mythology set at all. My PLC (Professional Learning Community of English 9 teachers) actually created our own unit and went with it. I didn't have many resources - I actually bought one of the mythology for dummies books (Everything Mythology, I think). It was my first unit during teaching and it definitely wasn't my best, but it seemed to work out okay. We started with going over the Hero's Quest, then studied how various authors used it - various myths and RTT - then we followed Luke Skywalker through it. I also had my students write their own myth - nothing too fancy - two to three pages I think.
     
  33. bmault

    bmault Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2006

    A Different Idea

    Why not skip the whole "name" thing. Its not your job to make sure they learn each others names. Seat them alphabetically. They'll be in that class all year, they'll learn eventually. (do you really care if they know each other?) Your job as a teacher should be to start teaching on the first day, it definitely sets a tone. Once you start playing games, the kids come to expect that. I teach in an urban setting (9th grade English) and I am jumping right in this year. Focus more on the tone of hte class.
    My two cents.
     
  34. iteachlit

    iteachlit New Member

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    Aug 15, 2006

    Hi Everyone!

    I am a relative newbie at all things technical, so bear with me if my posts are boring to look at! Anyway, I am a first-year English teacher myself, teaching 10th grade. My student teaching experience was one of the most rewarding of my life, but I am in a different school now, with a different grade and different level and I am not going to lie--I am TERRIFIED!
    My school is kind of unique in that they are very into the whole interdisciplinary approach, so to that end, every English teacher is paired with a History teacher and they sort of coordinate their curric. 10th grade at this school is American Lit, so I will be teaching some Huck Finn and probably The Crucible, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and also some poetry and maybe some of the Transcedentalists. If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears!!
    Also, I have two general level classes, one of which has an in-class support Special Ed teacher. Has anyone had that experience? I am REALLY nervous about it.

    PS--I love the T/F quiz idea as an ice-breaker!! I am totally doing that! (I live in Jersey, so we don't start school til after Labor Day)
     
  35. Alaskanteach

    Alaskanteach Cohort

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    I disagree. I took reading apprenticeships this summer, and one of the things I learned is that reluctant readers do much better in a setting where students take turns facilitating literature discussions... having a "team atmosphere" is absolutely crucial. No one feels like a member of a team when you don't know each others' names. I think it is a HUGE part of my job. I also took another class about social impacts (gangs, drugs, etc) and one of the biggest reasons why students avoid these things is connetions to their educational community- with each other and teachers.

    Oh, and the other reason why I do a lot of team building activities at the beginning of the semester/school year is that at our school, students have two weeks to drop a class... and they do! I have students add and drop a lot within that time frame. Why grade papers for students that aren't going to stay? That is just a waste of time.. I start items for points usually day 3 or so.. Most of the students who are going to drop by then, either have, or have made it clear they will (ie aren't doing assignments, anyway).
     
  36. EnglishMiss

    EnglishMiss Rookie

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    Hi iteachlit, our situations sound very similiar! I am also brand-new, teaching 10th grade English, and my honors class is an American Lit focus so we're doing Crucible and Huck Finn (among others). I'd love to share materials if you'd be interested! I'm in Colorado and we start on Thursday, yikes!
    Here's my two cents on what I'm going to do for the opening day get-to-know-you stuff: I'll make time at the end of class for them to make their first "exit ticket": written on a scrap piece of paper, this one will be 4 or 5 interesting little-known facts about themselves, and they put their name at the bottom. Then I collect them all and for the next week or two, at the end (or maybe beginning, so I don't run out of time) of class I'll pull out a couple papers and say the facts, and the rest of the class tries to guess who it is. Then the kid can tell the story behind the interesting facts if they want. I figure this is a good way to spread it out a little so the get-to-know-you activities are not all on the first day, like all the other classes will probably have.
    Also, I want to use that "exit ticket" idea on a semi-regular basis throughout the year too: they do something like answer one quick question, ask me a question on what they don't understand, say what they think is most important from today, do a word web definition... I've heard of all these versions used at different times and I think it's a great way for me to do a little informal assessment each day when I skim over their comments. Anyone else used this sort of strategy? What other sorts of questions or prompts do you use?
     
  37. irishteach

    irishteach Rookie

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    I'll make time at the end of class for them to make their first "exit ticket": written on a scrap piece of paper, this one will be 4 or 5 interesting little-known facts about themselves, and they put their name at the bottom. Then I collect them all and for the next week or two, at the end (or maybe beginning, so I don't run out of time) of class I'll pull out a couple papers and say the facts, and the rest of the class tries to guess who it is.


    we call them exit slips...but i love exit ticket. I always have them around in my room in case we have alot of extra time at the end..I teach all of h.s. so these are great. I usually have them tell me what they learned or didn't get or sometimes they are fun...like what song do you love right now. my kids like them--sometimes they have to turn them in the next day and do them for hw.
     
  38. iteachlit

    iteachlit New Member

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    Aug 15, 2006

    Hi EnglishMiss (great name!)

    I did my student teaching in an American Lit class too, so I do have some stuff that I used for both Huck Finn and Crucible that I would be happy to share if you're interested. E-mail me any time and I'll send them to you.

    I have heard of the question they don't understand or what they got from the day's lesson used as a closure activity, but I have never actually seen it. What I did--on the days I was actually able to get to a closure activity (my time-management skills are a bit lacking)--was toss around a bright, old-school style beach ball that had a question written on it such as: What is the main idea of today's lesson? How can we apply today's lesson to daily life?...and questions of that sort. You can get erasable markers and make the questions story-specific or lesson-specific if you are doing something like grammar or poetry things. I plan on doing that in my classes this year, but like I said, I have 2 general level classes and they may not respond as well to the activities I have found to be successful with my honors and AP level classes. Wish me luck!:eek:
     
  39. jenfab

    jenfab New Member

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    Aug 16, 2006

    that sounds like a great activity, can you give me a list of some of your questions and questions the students may choose? Thanks
     
  40. iteachlit

    iteachlit New Member

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    Aug 16, 2006

    I don't usually have them pick a question--what I do is have them pick a color, blue, white, red, yellow, orange and then they answer the question that is on that color.
    The questions can vary depending on what you're teaching that day. If you are doing a poetry lesson, a question could be "What does enjambment mean?" If you are doing something that is story-specific and you want them to do some simple recall lessons, a question could be "Which character ran off with the Sheherdson boy?"
    Also, if you don't want to actually write on the beach ball, you can have the questions printed up on a notecard with the corresponding color.
     
  41. Scout

    Scout New Member

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    Aug 26, 2006

    intro game?

    Hi Everyone,
    I too am a brand new (TERRIFIED) 10th grade American lit teacher. I did my student teaching with a completely different student population where I will be teaching, but I did use the same exit-ticket idea; we called it a "ticked to leave." I'm trying to find a good intro game for the first day, but I'd like it to be somewhat related to English or literature (which is broad - that could be something about perception or the American dream, etc.) Does anyone have any ideas for kind-of content based introduction activities that went well? I want to get them excited about studying American Literature with me :)

    I don't have any materials or plans yet, but I'm also teaching Huck, Crucible, Gatsby, Mice and Men, etc., and would love to trade ideas.
     

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