Activities for First lessons with New Classes

My favourite First Day with a new class activities – 10 year olds and older, including adults

The first lesson with a new class can be very daunting for teacher and students alike. It’s important to establish the kind of class dynamic you want for the year through routines and interactions. Do you want an energetic, collaborative class with a lot of peer support and plenty of room for creativity and self-expression? Then start as you mean to go on. And remember to give very clear instructions, otherwise the tasks will fall apart and you won’t achieve any of your aims.

1.  Write 10 - 15 sentences about yourself on separate pieces of card or paper, making around half of them true and half false,
I can swim, ride and bicycle and speak French.
I have two brothers who are both older than me.
(My students never guess that I really don’t own a TV, car nor an ipad.)
Grade the language so it will not be difficult for the class.
Organise the class into pairs of threes.
Pass the cards around the class asking them to read the sentence together and discussing it decide if they think it’s true or false.
Once students have read all the cards, as a class get them to vote on whether they are true or false and tell you why they have made their decisions.

·        establish a collaborative dynamic
·        focus on thinking rather than just knowing the right answer
·        students can learn a lot about you (they won’t necessarily ask)
·        students, read, listen and speak
·        the focus is on meaningful language
Extension task
For homework or in the lesson, students prepare similar sentences about themselves and then work in pairs or small groups in class challenging their classmates to guess which facts are true or false. This encourages them to write with a purpose.

2. Arrange the class into groups of 3 or 4. Hand out a large piece of paper and a marker per group.
Explain that you want each group to write 3 sentences about your past, 3 about your present and 3 about you future.
Students have to use their powers of observation, deduction and ESP (extra-sensory perception) to decide what they write.
Give a minimum amount of words for each sentence: the higher the level, the longer the sentences e.g. B1 level – 9 words, C1 level – 14 words.
There will be a scoring system at the end. If a sentence is true, they score one point; if it’s grammatically correct they score one point, too.
It’s great fun as students become quite resourceful and imaginative doing this.
Pin up the paper on the wall so everyone can see it and encourage the other groups to decide if sentences are true and/or correct. They’ll need to explain what is wrong with grammar or vocabulary if they say it’s incorrect.

·        Great diagnostic activity – you can see what grammar and vocabulary they are able to use and how accurately
·        Students have to pay attention and give feedback on each others’ work
·        Again this task encourages collaboration
·        Great ice-breaker
·        Despite seeming very game-like there is a big focus on accuracy as well as creativity
·        Getting to know the teacher is quite often forgotten in a first class as the focus is usually on students getting to know each other and students do (really) find us a bit of a mystery!

3. Prepare as many questions as there are students in the class
e.g. What’s your favourite colour?
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
What do you think is the best place in this town/city?

Make your questions age and level appropriate. If necessary you could give one question per pair of students.

Explain that the students are going to get one question each and they have to ask everyone in the class their question and keep a record of the answers as they will give a report on what they discovered at the end of the activity e.g. they can talk about the most common or most unusual answers they got. (If the class is big, you could divide it into 2 or 3 subgroups).
Students get their questions, mill around asking their classmates and then give their reports, which do not have to be extensive.(they could even me written up and pinned up on the walls).

·        Students move around, so they feel comfortable
·        They talk to lots of their new classmates
·        Asking only one question is not too demanding
·        Great for mixed ability as answers can be as long, short, complex etc as the interviewee wants

Happy New School Year!!!