Lesson Planning: Back to School-Teaching Rules and Procedures

Monday, July 24, 2017
Well, teacher friends-it is just about back to school time! We start school on September 5th this year, and I am in full new-year mode! I have ransacked the Target, Walmart and Staples for supplies and I have been working on completely planning the first semester.

Lesson Planning: Back to School-Teaching Rules and Procedures

I try to have at least the first month mapped out completely. This helps calm my over-anxious teacher-brain, but is not so planned that I feel I can't change it after the month is over. I usually find that the first month is a sort of settling in period for me. I get to know the students, and they get to know me. I get a hands-on practice of how my systems and structure will work and what will and what won't need to be adjusted.

During the first week, I usually do a mini-unit on rules, procedures and expectations in my class, followed by my Introduction to Science Unit. These are both nice easy topics to learn and keeps the students (and me, tbh) from freaking out too soon. (I like to ease them into the freaking out part, lol!)

My mini-unit on rules, procedures and expectations usually takes about a 3 to 4 days of 50 minute classes.

Here is my schedule:
Day 1- Personal introduction and begin Back to School Stations
Day 2- Complete Back to School Stations
Day 3- Fun lab
Day 4- Mini Research/Poster Project

My Back to School Station activity is usually about 5-6 stations of different activities that I pull together, including:

  • a Syllabus Scavenger Hunt, where they have to read the syllabus and find the answer to questions
  • Getting to Know Your Group Dice Game, a school friendly version of "never have I ever"
  • an Around the Room Scavenger Hunt for locations of different materials and bits of information
  • a couple of group challenges (usually working as a group to stack cups or write with a single marker) 
  • setting up notebooks
  • and a station for logic puzzles 
These Station Activities can take anywhere from one class period to two. Sometimes, I will save the group challenges for the second day entirely and talk about how they will need to work together in groups. For that, I will try to have a couple more activities on hand, in case they really work fast! 

I have also had them spend a class period getting notebooks in order, depending on how I use them. If they are using regular binders, then the station will just be coloring a cover page and labeling their tabs for the binder. If I am doing full-on interactive notebooks, then I will spend an entire class period going over how to set them up, and pasting in rules and expectations, showing them examples of good and bad work.  

I like to do a mini-lab on the third day, just to get a quick assessment of how they work in groups. Everybody is still fresh, so no one has fallen into their "role" in class yet. This will usually be the marshmallow/spaghetti stack, or the saving Sam activity. (This is also a great introduction of how to complete classwork and turn it in, whether I am using a binder or INB.)
A mini-lab setup with the rolling lab tables
 **Just make sure that if you do this, you check with other teachers to make sure you are not repeating each other (that was awkward-Mrs!- we just did this in miss-so-and-so's class!)**

And finally, depending on how bored I am with introduction stuff or icebreakers, I will either have them complete a mini-research project to make a poster for my bulletin board or I will dive into my "what is science?" lesson and get started!

This year, I am looking into finding some new activities that are not quite so played out.
I have listed a few things on my wish list below! 

All About Me Back to School Ice Breakers by Getting Nerdy  -this looks like a great icebreaker and INB practice activity in one! Plus, I love their stuff!
Four Brains are Better Than One by Tangstar Science - I already own this one! It is quick and a lot of fun. I have used it and many of her articles as substitute work!

Back to School Science Activities for Middle School by That Rocks Math Science and ELA - This looks like a great collection of 12 activities that focus on different science skills. Geared toward middle school, and looks to be not your typical activities.

Back to School Beginning of the Year Activities: Science Edition by Martina Cahill, The Hungry Teacher - this looks promising. It includes different activities, along with getting to know you and questionnaires. Suitable for lower middle grades (think 5-6, maybe 7)

Take Notes the Cornell Way by Mister Science- I am still thinking about how I want students to take notes. I have done modified Cornell before and this looks like an interesting lesson to teach it more effectively.

So there you have it- my general back to school method! What do you guys do for back to school? do you have any special ways to introduce you rules and procedures? Anything new you are trying this year? Leave a comment below and share!


  1. Great activities for the first few days!

  2. Wow. Thanks for sharing your back to school plan! My summer has only just started but I'm already prepping for the first few days!

    Great useful post :)

  3. I love your idea of diving right into stations! And kids should really enjoy the mini-researches too - so much more engaging that just one big research project later on!

  4. Loving your ideas! I'm in kindergarten land where we just go over the classroom rules and expectations for the first month. It takes a while for the little ones to get it so they need constant reminders. I'm bracing myself for it!

  5. Great ideas for learning procedures! I especially like that you make it fun and games, like with the scavenger hunt and dice games.