Posted by: jockmackenzie | August 28, 2009

The First Week of School – Part 2 (with video clip)

Here’s the “Ladies and Gentlemen” video as promised in the last blog entry. After watching the video (approx. 4.5 minutes) read about the next parts of the activity.

Once the class has memorized the poem, we compare their speed with the current world record. Within 10 or 15 seconds, it’s always around 6 minutes. Not bad! Most are quite impressed with themselves.

And then comes the first homework assignment of the year. I hand out a copy of the poem (see the Free Materials page) and ask that each student recite the poem to 3 people. I prefer at least one of those people to be mom, dad, guardian or someone at home. If two can be from home, even better. The third could be a friend or a teacher from some other class . . . or anybody. All the listener has to do is to initial the half page I provide that has the poem on it.

The next day I take in the half pages. It tells me right away who will perform a simple task and is organized and caring enough to return the assignment. It starts the year off on what I hope is the right foot by underlining the idea that we will do interesting activities . . . and ones for which the students are accountable.

Some students cheat. They don’t recite the poem to anybody. They forge three sets of initials, often showing great creativity – different colors of pens, uniquely slanted writing, some initials that look like they were written on a bucking horse. BUT I HAVE PLAN B. On one of my first quizzes of the year, the last question states: Write out the words to “Ladies and Gentlemen.” For the students who have recited to three people, it’s a breeze. For the cheaters, well, what goes around . . .

There is also a Part 3 to the “Ladies and Gentlemen” exercise, a method I use to get the class’s attention, but I’ll save that for another time.

I would love to hear if you try the idea, if it works (or doesn’t), and if you have “First Week of School” activities that are sure winners in your classroom. The whole idea of this blog is to have a place to share what works for teachers.

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