17 Fun First Day of School Activities to Try

Whether you’ve been teaching for years or it’s your first day as a full-time teacher, the first day of school is usually accompanied by some anxiety — no matter how prepared you might be.  

It’s the same for students. Uncertainty about friends, teachers, and schoolwork is enough to make the most extroverted students a bit nervous.

With that in mind, you should always consider what first day of school activities can stimulate introductions, get students talking, and set the tone for successful classroom management.

Get inspired by these 17 fun, creative first day of school activities and try them out yourself. They’re easy, free, and guaranteed to ease the tension on a busy, hectic first day of school.

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The 6 Qualities of a Good Teacher (+25 Ways to Show them)

Should the qualities of a good teacher be defined solely by student achievement?

Or should they encompass traits more difficult to measure — such as the capacity to connect emotionally with children?

Among the sea of advice, tips, and quotes on teaching, the best solution is to turn to the research.

We pored through hundreds of pages of scholarship, studies, and firsthand accounts about what defines great teaching.

We discovered 6 key behaviours that make a great teacher — and defined 25 specific, actionable ways to apply those behaviours in the classroom. Start testing them with your students to stimulate a more exciting, dynamic, and engaging experience in your coming lessons!

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60 Teacher Quotes Every Educator Should Read

All teachers cherish the feeling: The thrill of inspiration that comes from inspiring others.

But whether it be writing report cards or managing the classroom, daily stresses can make it hard to keep that inspiration alive.

We’ve dug through dozens of books, teacher magazines, Pinterest boards, and other blogs to find 60 of our favorite motivational quotes for teachers. Re-energize your day or week with these inspiring quotes from some of the world’s greatest educators and thinkers!

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The Definitive Guide to Project-Based Learning: Definition, Debates, Ideas and Examples

For some teachers, it’s classroom bliss.

Students work together to investigate an authentic and nuanced problem. They build curriculum-aligned skills in the process. They’re rewarded with enhanced communication and problem-solving abilities.

But organizing and running suitable project-based learning (PBL) activities isn’t always easy, as the pedagogy is surrounded by debate and takes form in a range of exercises.

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A man sits at his desk, looking at his laptop computer while making notes, presumably about math software.

9 Qualities you must evaluate when adopting math software

The subject is hard for an overwhelming number of students, but finding math software to improve and supplement learning shouldn’t be as difficult.

Your challenge is evaluating different math platforms based on objective information, finding a solution that addresses your school or district’s specific issues. You can smoothen this process by knowing what aspects to investigate in any given platform.

To help, below are nine qualities to assess.

1. DoK range

A quote from Charles Clarke, former UK secretary of state for education: "The most important attribute that education can bring to anyone is the ability to think critically"

It’s critical to keep content depth in mind when assessing math software, especially while investigating how many questions the average student answers per session.

Many platforms focus on fact fluency; fewer deliver content that meets second and third Depth of Knowledge (DoK) levels. The former acts as a way of building information recall and reproduction abilities. The latter is suited to introducing and reinforcing specific, deeper skills.

And whereas students can answer fact fluency questions in a few seconds, problems that demand strategic thinking can take a minute — maybe longer.

Base your expectations on the type of content you want students to receive.

2. Teacher control

Teachers should be able to easily choose the kind of content students see.

At the class or student level — or both — some platforms allow teachers to:

  • Deliver assignments to assess understanding of specific skills
  • Set in-program content to match topics and expectations
  • Align questions to mirror standardized test questions

Math software doesn’t just have to be a tool for basic practice. The right platform can act as a lesson instruction, supplementation and reinforcement resource.

Choose a platform that gives teachers the power to control and customize educational content.

3. Adaptivity and differentiation

What happens if teachers don’t have time to set and schedule content? Or, what if they want to use the platform purely to engage students?

Precision varies, but many platforms use algorithms to serve students content if the teacher hasn’t scheduled anything. Some automatically adapt to — and differentiate for — each student based on trouble spots and knowledge gaps. These platforms may also give hints and explanations to provide scaffolding .

These qualities are especially helpful for classrooms in which foundational knowledge greatly differs between students.

>> Read more in our adaptive learning guide <<

4. Curriculum alignment

If a given math program doesn’t align with your curriculum, it can limit the effectiveness of adaptability and teacher control.

For example, in the United States, some state curricula are similar to — whereas others are completely different from — Common Core. So, you may have a strong need for an uncommon curriculum.

In short: Some software will align with your curriculum; some will not.

5. Data actionability

A shot of a student progress report in Prodigy, a curriculum-aligned math game for 1st to 8th Grade students.

Relevant student data is always valuable, especially when it allows teachers and school leaders to monitor progress.

There are math programs that run diagnostic tests throughout the year, quantifying and visualizing each student’s growth. These programs, and others, may also have reports about topic and curriculum coverage.

Such reports help pinpoint struggling students, opening the door to scaffolding and intervention.

6. Ease-of-use

A quote from Susan Dray of the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction: "If the user can't use it, it doesn't work"

It could offer robust data and be curriculum-aligned, but nobody in your building will adopt math software that’s too hard to use.  

If students can’t follow in-program language, would teachers schedule time to use it? If teachers struggle to use core features, would they log in? And how long would you look for progress data before logging out?

For students, you must ensure the program:

  • Is intuitive to navigate
  • Uses simple, yet descriptive, language
  • Loads and displays  properly across devices

For teachers and school leaders, you must ensure the program:

  • Offers built-in explanations and instructions
  • Requires few clicks to find and use core features
  • Allows you to add and remove students in straightforward ways

Math software meeting these requirements shouldn’t cause major usability issues for your building.


A chart comparing popular math software, such as Prodigy, Dreambox and IXL.
Click the image to see how popular math platforms compare.

7. Training and support

Finding a math platform that offers training and ongoing support should address uncertainty with school- and district-level implementation.  

If this is a concern, look for a platform that:

  • Offers training sessions to school leaders, tailored to your needs
  • Teaches teachers, offering step-by-step instructions for using core features
  • Provides a dedicated support manager to answer questions and concerns as they arise

With a streamlined and informative implementation period, your building should get up-and-running with new software relatively quickly.

8. Student engagement

Building students’ investment in learning is a never-ending initiative, but one you can support by choosing software they’ll enjoy using.

Game-based learning (GBL) is growing more popular as a way to engage students while appealing to diverse learning styles. Some math games are made up of disparate challenges, whereas others present problems through cohesive storylines. The former is more common, whereas the latter is like many mainstream video games that students actively play.

Regardless, compared with continuously drilling content in the same format, it’s easy to see why students would want a GBL program.

9. Cost

Unfortunately, cost can be a major barrier.


A basic chart comparing math software options


Fortunately, platforms with diverse content, teacher tools and student reporting greatly vary in price. Whereas some can cost upwards of $10,000 USD for a large school, others are free. There are many more between these price points.

This means there should be at least one or two platforms that fit your budget.

Final thoughts about assessing math software

Keep these nine factors in mind when evaluating any math software.

They’ll allow you to find an affordable solution that’s engaging and educational for students, helpful and intuitive for teachers and informative for school leaders.


>>Prodigy is a free GBL platform aligned with math curricula across the English-speaking world. Loved by more than a million teachers and 30 million students, school leaders turn to Prodigy for engaging and comprehensive math instruction and supplementation.

Learn more about Prodigy

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105 Report Card Comments to Use and Adapt

Just about every teacher agrees: report card comments are important. But there are few who actually look forward to writing them.

Why?

Because every instructor knows working under tight deadlines to create upwards of 20 unique and detailed reports isn’t exactly straightforward (or particularly fun).

And while no one at your school knows your students better than you do, writing valuable report card comments for each of them can be a huge challenge.

That’s why we created a list of 105 sample report card comments to help you find ideas, inspiration, and insights while writing your own assessments.

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8 Active Learning Strategies and Examples [+ Downloadable List]

As a teacher, one of your biggest challenges is to plan lessons that inspire your students to stay actively involved in the learning process.

But you’ve probably noticed that traditional, teacher-centered learning plans aren’t always conducive to achieving that inspiration.

That’s where active learning strategies come into play. You can use them to empower, engage, and stimulate a classroom by putting students at the center of the learning process.

Get inspired by these 8 strategies that will help students talk more openly, think more creatively and — ultimately — become more engaged in the process of learning.

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