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Classroom Firsts: Days and Minutes

Greetings Ithaca College Colleagues and best wishes for a fun and productive Spring 2016 semester.

What do you call a blog that is really a webinar? Name it what you will, but this first Threads blog is just that, and posted for your viewing. On January 20, Judith Ross-Bernstein from the Center for Faculty Excellence led a twenty minute webinar, It’s All About Firsts.”  (Click the link and sign in with your netpass and id to view the recorded session.)

Judith delineates her process of planning a first class beginning with making her overarching assumptions explicit; attention to transitions are important in that the first class has the potential to initiate a teaching/ learning path for the entire semester. She then prioritizes component intentions for her inclusive classroom: student engagement, classroom climate and student expectations.  Further detail is given to specific student learning objectives, first day design, and activities through reflection and meta-analysis. Strategic use of the first few minutes of every class session brings the webinar to a close.

While each class is uniquely its own,  perhaps the webinar planning process can spark ideas in your own first class planning for next week, or support you to think about how to judiciously begin each class of the semester. “Firsts”best practice resources and links from the last slide of the webinar are attached below. Once again, CHEERS!, to FIRSTS, and what comes next…


Ambrose, S., Bridges, M. DiPietro, M., Lovett, M., Norman, M, & Maye, R. (2010). How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lang, J.M. (January 11, 2016) Chronicle of Higher Education. Small Changes in Teaching: The First Five Minutes of Class

“Firsts” links from  Teaching and Learning Centers at:

Carnegie Mellon

UC Berkeley

Vanderbilt University


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