Monday, July 27, 2015

PerfettoWritingRoom Goes Back to School!


So glad to be linking up with amazing secondary folks for a back to school Blog-Hop 

and Giveaway. It's fun, a great way to learn about fellow teachers, their ideas for 

"Back to School" and perhaps pick up some great tips and tricks along the way! 

The first week of school is crucial,  and if you are anything 

 like me, it can feel a little nerve-wracking. 

So what do I do? I over prepare. I love the saying "It's better

 to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it."

A Little Bit About Me:

Gina Perfetto

Teaching since: 1997  (yes, it really has been that long...)

Grades and subjects? Genre, American and British Literature,  Creative Writing, Essay 
                                      and Expository Writing, the Humanities, SAT, and more!

My Favorite Writers and Novels? Don Delillo (have you read White Noise? It's a fantastic satire and commentary on modern-day society);

 The Sun also Rises by Hemingway (a fantastic commentary on Post World War I society, plus, you know, Hemingway);

 and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (just genius writing all around about the self-conscious meta-cognitive awareness of your own intelligence in relationship to other people and how they view you...and how heart-wrenching that can be. Plays fantastically with the third person objective narrator, and also, to some degree, dramatic irony in that the reader often knows what will occur in order to heighten reader emotion).  


The Person!!! 

The LOGO and the Store

What to do the First Few Days of School?

1. FOR YOU. Always get a writing baseline. Why? You'll be FAR ahead of the game if at the very beginning  of the school year you know the writing strengths and weaknesses of your students. Once you know all of your lessons will be TARGETED ONES! 
           A fun, relatively easy writing prompt on the second or third day even on something as simple as: A. Discuss the MOST exciting thing you did this summer. If you did nothing exciting, you have permission to invent something. Make sure you use your best writing style and obey spelling and grammar rules. 

2. For YOU, and For Class Team Building. Set Firm Expectations but Make STUDENTS a Central Part of it. Why? Students are far more likely especially in the upper grades to get hung up on the idea of fairness. When they are able to argue, explain and rationalize the reasons why a rule is a "good" rule and the class can agree to it, the rule is much more likely to meet with agreement and COMPLIANCE, by both students. Later on, there will much less stress for you should an infraction occur.

What is more convincing than: "Every single student debated, then agreed upon, then wrote up, and then SIGNED this class rules agreement. Then, you as a parent signed it!" We all know you'd love to GET started on your year.... I'm telling you....TAKE THE TIME to set up your rules.

3. For Student Character. Do a Class Bonding or Get to Know You Activity. - Especially in Grade 9, or in classes where new students are coming in on the first day, it is important to focus on "how we are all similar." Sure, this seems "like a waste of time." I am ADAMANT and can assure you that is it NOT. As humans we are herd animals. When frightened and uncomfortable, we tend to pick on the weak to solidify our own position. I have seen GROWN people do this. As teachers it is our job to remind students of our unity, and to "demonstrate uniqueness in a positive way."  The middle of the year, the"anti-bullying assembly" is just TOO LATE.  

             A. Have Students Stand up. Ask questions they will agree or disagree with. Please note
                  you can add as many extra questions as you want.
You can also see this freebie in greater detail below.

GOAL: To find they have more in common with each person in the class. 

Directions: Divide class in two so that each half in on the left or right side of the classroom. AS you read each provided statement, students will move towards the CENTER of the class when they relate to, or agree with the statements posed.  You or the students may ask additional questions after the provided section concludes. Hopefully, students should find the information about each other revealing and interesting.  

            B. Once Finished with the Main Activity, Move on to the Discussion Question Section. 
                 Please note that despite the directions provided here, do whatever you feel most 
                 comfortable with. Here is what it looks like:


Directions: Students will fill out the Comment Section individually. When completed, hold a while group discussion. This is an opportunity for students to bond, explain what most surprised them about what makes similar. More importantly there is a section regarding the ideal behaviors they would like to see and model in the class during the year. This reinforces class character, rules and management (see #2).
If you see fit, use the questionnaire as a rewrite opportunity (see#1). Students take this discussion worksheet home after discussion day, rewrite and polish it as the writing sample mentioned in #1 above.

Would you like this for FREE? Available only here at my Blog...

And now Great Peoples of the Blog Hop.....HOP ON.....HOP ON!!!!  and thanks for reading...  :) 

The Literary League


  1. I agree with all 3 of your first days of school recommendations! I have never read "White Noise" so thanks for the tip! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  2. Thank you for sharing this first day freebie

  3. I agree with getting a writing pre-assessment as soon as possible! Great idea! :-)