First Day: Is a hotdog a sandwich?

@Allison_krasnow (here’s her blog) shared her amazing first day lesson on Twitter. I loved the idea and did it on the first day of school with my 7th graders too.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive:

I wanted to share the materials I created, in case they are useful to other teachers. All of them are simple modifications of Allison’s creations:

Here are the lesson slides.

The card sort on google slides. (For group work…I also used this as an opportunity to introduce the idea of having table leaders.)

The desmos link. (Used for independent think time and the cool down. )

Here is some of the work from my students. I would have loved to go deeper with this activity…and in actual school, in an actual classroom, it would have been much easier to push students further by asking them about discrepancies between their card sorts and their definitions. I LOVE the variety here:

At the end of class, I asked “How does this connect to math class? How does it connect to doing math?”

In one class, no one offered up any ideas. Bummer. I made a few connections for them….one of them being that this activity shows how sometimes you think you know something – like how we all thought we knew what a sandwich was – but when you really probe deeply, you realize you understand less than you thought. In math we have to really think deeply to make sure we truly understand. (I’m not totally sure this was a positive first day message!)

But in the next class, students shared the type of comments that make a math teacher’s heart sing:

“Debate. We had to debate and argue about what makes a sandwich a sandwich and in math class we have to debate our ideas and answers with each other.”

“It’s like the dot talk because it shows that there are a lot of different ways of seeing and thinking about things.”

“It shows how to really understand someone’s idea about something you have to get down into the tiniest, detail of what they are saying to make sure your really understand.”

In any case, I HIGHLY recommend doing this with your kids!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m trying to figure out how to do this without breakout rooms (admin says there must be a staff member in each group, which isn’t plausible for every class on the first day).

    • Ugh! That’s such a ridiculous rule. Not only do kids NEED unsupervised time to talk to one another it also greatly reduces the amount of group work and verbal communication kids get to do.
      Maybe you could just project each item and then have kids vote yes or no in the zoom chat and then choose a few people to defend their answer aloud? My students love engaging via chat.

      • I know! It’s not like I can monitor everything they say in a physical classroom. I’m going to try to get them to chat and use the nonverbal feedback in Zoom. Thanks again!

Always happy to hear from readers!