The new school year begins in Sacramento next Tuesday, so I’m beginning to get ready.

My plans for the first day of my Intermediate English class are very similar to what I do in my mainstream ninth-grade class. I shared those details in Answers To “What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?”

I share a lot of ELL resources and hand-outs in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work. But I thought people might find it useful if I shared a few additional materials that I specifically use on the first day of a class.

First, here is a letter I show and read to the class introducing myself. I then ask students to write me one in return. That functions as both an opportunity for me to learn a little more about them, and as a way to assess their English writing ability.

Second, here’s a model I show students to give them an idea what I expect them to write for a weekly journal. I’ve written about how I have students write a weekly journal sharing two positive and one not-so-positive event that happened in their lives, and how studies have shown this activity has a lot of positive academic and non-academic effects.

Lastly, here’s a sheet I use for a “Messenger and Scribe” activity on the first day. Many are probably familiar with this exercise. You cut up several sentences or paragraphs and tape them in different parts of the room. Then, students divide into pairs — one is the “messenger” and the other is the “scribe.” The messenger has to run to the different sheets, read them, and run back and tell the “scribe” what was on the sheet. The scribe writes it down, and the messenger keeps going back and forth. The first few pairs to get all of them correct, including grammar, win. The messenger is not supposed to yell from the sheet, and instead is supposed to run all the way there and back (Right, good luck with enforcing that rule). It’s a great activity!

Do you have any favorite activities or materials for the first day of an ESL class? If you do, please share them in the comments section of this post.