Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day One: ALL the Names (and High Fives!)

Learning the names of students has never been a strength of mine. I've been known to take a week (or two) to get them all right. This year I decided to make it a priority, so I challenged myself to learn all the names on day one.

Day one, 35 minute class periods:

1. Students get a high five and a copy of "Mrs. Gruen's Life in Numbers" as they walk in the room. I borrowed this idea from Heather Kohn, as recommended at Global Math Department.

2. A seating chart is projected via the document camera and students find their seats. The seating chart is key. I could not have done this without it.

3. I introduce myself, then call out names from the roster while students are working at matching numbers from the answer bank to ten facts about me. I make note of preferred nicknames and pronunciations and such.

4. I show a brief slide show to reveal the answers to the quiz. I share an adorable pic of me with my family last Halloween . . .

And one of my dog Sophie, in big trouble after snitching a few almost-ripe tomatoes from my daughter's tomato plant.

5. I ask them to write 3-5 number facts about themselves. Share with your group members. Ask each other questions like "Which four countries have you lived in?" or "What's it like to have six toes on one foot?". I collect the papers when they're done.

6. Noah's ark problem from Fawn. Also recommended by Heather via Global Math.

7. As I watch students work and listen to their conversations, I have a good ten minutes to silently study the seating chart while looking at their faces. I practice covering the chart and saying their names in my head. We didn't finish the Noah's ark problem today, but that's okay.

8. As students leave the room, I say goodbye to each one individually. Bye Tate, bye Robert, bye Kyanna, bye . . . I overhear someone say "Holy cow, she knows our names already!"

Day two, before students arrive:

9. I go through the stack of number facts. I try to picture each face as I read what they've shared.

And then the final test:

10. As students enter the room on day 2, they get a high five and a "Hello Tate, Hi Robert, Good morning Kyanna . . . ". I only got two names wrong on day 2, and I think that is pretty good.

I also realized that learning names quickly has added another dimension to my daily high-fives. Every student gets to hear me say their name, along with their high five, every day. I definitely feel more connected to my students than I normally would be this early in the year. And the look on their faces when I welcomed them by name on day two? Priceless.

This is going to be a great year!


  1. Yayyyyy for high fives! I teach at a tiny school so I know students names way before they even get to me. lol I don't know if learning names would be hard for me or not- I've never had to do it. Congratulations on a great beginning!

  2. Hi Amy - thanks for sharing your first days ideas; mine is coming up next week, and I'm trying to sort through all the great stuff people have shared. I am curious - what grade(s) do you teach? I'm wondering how the high fives will go over with off-track juniors...thanks, Wendy Menard