The first day...
What does it look like at your school?
I am sure all your students come in ready to learn  just like this...

graphics by graphicsfactory.com 
Well, our first day is with the freshmen trying to get them acclimated to the building and each other. The first day with all the kids is only a half day  each class gets 30 minutes. You have time to give the syllabus, call for attendance, and maybe pass out a book. But, what can be done differently, what can you do to say you mean business  that this class will be about math, and we're all going to LOVE IT!
In my algebra classes, I used to start with a worksheet entitled USE YOUR BRAIN BOX. There were questions on it like: How much dirt is in a hole 3 feet x 2 feet x 6 feet? (You saw all the kids working feverishly to remember the formula for the volume of a prism...only to have somebody finally realize  HEY there's no dirt in a hole!!!)
In my calculus class, I just like to say Hey  hi how are you  how was your summer? And, by the way, how do you factor this polynomial? (I've had most of my calculus students before, and they definitely know I mean business!)
I think I am going to try a couple of activities that I found on several blogs...(see
Amber Caldwell Blog).
I usually have my calculus students email me with things they think I should know about them and what their goals are for this year. I do this for two reasons...1. I want them to know my email and that I will respond to their emails and 2. a lot of them ask me for letters of recommendation and sometimes the emails really bring out important information that they would never reveal during a reallife conversation.
But, this year I am going to try to incorporate a little twist to it...choose 5 numbers and tell me why those numbers are important to you. For example, I might say 3 is important to me because I have three children. Or, the number 23 is my favorite number because Ryne Sandberg (my favorite baseball player) was number 23.
But, in geometry, what can I do on the very first day to get everyone excited...make them want to come to class just to see what I'm going to do tomorrow? I was thinking of doing something with QR codes, but I know that lots of kids won't have a QR Code reader on the very first day, so I need something else.
I found this idea about a cube, also on Amber Caldwell's blog. You give each group a cube net and have them design the sides of the cube. Then you cut it out and tape it together. Then the cubes are redistributed and the new group has to recreate the cube on the net without taking the original cube apart.
This is great for me for two reasons. 1. I put my geometry students in random groups at the beginning of the year. The class is a mix of freshmen and sophomores, so they don't all know each other. Since they will spend the entire first quarter with this group, it is a nice, nonthreatening get to know my group kind of activity. It will be interesting to walk around and see what kind of leadership emerges. 2. It's a great first day activity that actually involves geometry!
What do you do on the first day of math class?