These are some books of interest on General education topics.
General book suggestions for further reading


An environment that is organized, designed for the types of learning to occur in that space, and considerate of student needs is an important part of setting the right tone on the first day. Suggestions for achieving these goals are here.


If you've gotta do a syllabus, do it different from their other classes. Six classes of the same six-page packet detailing the same rules, expectations, and standards has gotta numb a kid by the end of the day. Hell, it numbs me.

So sketch out what you want to talk about on one page. Omit crucial words or numbers and then let them fill 'em in. Nothing earth shattering, certainly. You're still talking but they get to build a document, which is different enough to count.

Example here

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After that, I go through several, get-to-know-you activities. One of the students tell me about themselves. What they find out about each other.
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If this activity has been done too many times by others in your school, there are several variations to give it new life.

You can have some good times mid-year by showing student self-portraits to the class and asking them to identify the student by her roughly drawn outlines.

Another survey theme you can use is, "How do you feel about this subject?". Elona Hartjes has a post on 9 questions she uses in a survey. Here's a powerpoint for the math version of those questions.

Chain Gang

I added this activity as I believe it can be used across many curriculums or grade levels. I like the fact that when the activity is complete the result is a daily reminder of what makes each person special in the class.

Begin by asking students "Who can do something really well?" After a brief discussion about some of the students' talents, pass out paper and ask students to write down five things they do well. Then provide each student with five different-colored paper strips. Have each student write a different talent on each paper strip. Then create a mini paper chain by linking the five talent strips together. As students complete their mini chains, use extra strips of paper to link the mini chains together to create one long class chain. Have students stand and hold the growing chain as you link the pieces together.
The number of questions and content of questions can be modified as needed for each respective class / teacher.

Once the entire chain is constructed and linked, lead a discussion about what the chain demonstrates.
For example, it might illustrate that…
· All students have talents.
· The students in this class have many talents.
· If the students in this class work together, they can accomplish anything.

· Our class is stronger when students work together than when individual students work on their own.
Hang the chain in the room as a constant reminder to students of the talents they possess and the benefits that can result from teamwork.

Learning Inventory

I wouldn't do this the first day, but something to do during the first week as needed.
Have students take a learning inventory. I used the VARK

Ways to extend it:
Read about the different modalities, especially studying the ones you scored high or low on. Write a response about how accurately you think this reflects you.
Group students by modality type. Have them create a learning style poster answering the question, learning style?"

Alternative versions of the Who I Am sheet

I wanted a version of Dan's sheet that I could tweak a little, so I opened the pdf in Fireworks, and made the changes I wanted (including anglocising some of the spellings!). While I was at it, I thought a blank version might be useful for some other folks out there as well. Both are posted below:
I retouched this document; changing the "Qualities of a good math teacher" to "Qualities of a good teacher" but retained the American spellings.

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