books / reflections

Back to School: Anticipation & Activities

Need a fresh activity for back to school? Check out this blog post for some back to school anticipation, preparation, and celebration at

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Back to School Thoughts & Activities

Hello, all!

I’m Danielle and I am a teacher, military spouse, writer, runner, and reader. I graduated from the University of Idaho with a teaching degree, and then followed that up with a Masters from la Université de Poitiers in France. I’ve been teaching for five years now, working in Oregon, France, Germany, North Carolina, and now Puerto Rico. I’m gearing up for a new school and a new school year here in sunny Puerto Rico. I’ll be teaching 9th grade English in an English-speaking school here, and I’m really excited. I got to choose my own books, too! We’ll read Lord of the Flies, dystopian lit in lit circles, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Need a fresh activity for back to school? Check out this blog post for some back to school anticipation, preparation, and celebration at

I love books!

I mean, obviously. I’m an English teacher, right? One of my favorites that I read this summer is The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. It’s a hauntingly beautiful mystery set in Ireland, and it’s got it all: romance, drama, suspense, and a little bit of magic.

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

I also *love* recommending books to students. This year, I’ll direct them to The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Veronica Mars meets Scandal), Nightfall by Jake Halpern (for fans of Mazerunner), and The Last Night at Circle Cinema by Emily Franklin. Some of my all-time favorites include the Lemony Snicket books, anything YA Dystopian, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

Back to School!

I’m so thrilled to be headed back to school!

On the first day of school this year, I plan to have students complete The Daring English Teacher’s (free) Back to School Survey. While this is happening, I’m going to take pictures of each student. I have a class set of mini whiteboards, and I’ll have them write their names on the whiteboard and hold it up. I’ll take two pictures – one with the name and one without – and use these as flashcards to quiz myself at home. I have to learn these names quickly, folks – names are power! peer-interview-cov

I’ll also get rolling in the first week with something academic. One of my favorite starter activities is a Peer Interview Project with my students. It works for everyone: they get to work on their speaking and listening skills, everyone learns about each other, and I get to learn about them! As a military spouse who’s constantly changing schools, it’s really important for me to be able to get to know my students quickly. This project is a great jump start!

What are your favorite Back to School activities? I’d love to hear from you in comments. 🙂



  • Room 213
    July 27, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    I love the whiteboard idea. I am planning to get a class set this year and try them out!

  • Lisa
    July 27, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Your experience teaching around the world is exciting and fascinating! I have always thought that I would love to participate in a teacher exchange program! 🙂 So nice to meet you in Vegas, too!

    • Danielle Hall
      July 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

      You should definitely sign up for an exchange! Your enthusiasm and curious spirit would allow you to embrace another culture with ease. 🙂

  • Melissa
    July 27, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I love your enthusiasm, Danielle! What a cool career that you’re afforded teaching opportunities in so many interesting places. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sherri
    July 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    The whiteboard idea for learning many students names quickly . . . genius!

    Literary Sherri

  • Brain Waves Instruction
    July 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    I loved every word of this post…learning more about you…finding out about a great novels to read…and imagining your first day of school! Can’t wait to read more!

  • Kristen Bowers
    July 28, 2015 at 11:49 am

    So great to meet you in Vegas this year! I am so excited for you that you get to choose your own novels to teach – what a novelty! I also want to thank you for the list of recommended novels. I now have about 6 more added to my “to read” list, as I haven’t read any of these (I am so behind!). Thanks so much for sharing your ideas! Have an amazing back to school, and keep up the fabulous work – I am sure your students appreciate your enthusiasm and ideas! – Kristen @Simply Novel

  • Brynn Allison
    July 28, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    It would be fun to compare those photos with shots of the kids from the end of the year too!

    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

    • Danielle Hall
      July 28, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Fantastic idea, Brynn! I will have to keep that in mind 🙂

  • The Daring English Teacher
    July 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    I love my whit boards -and the students do too!

    Teaching in France sounds like a great experience!


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