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Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

As I mentioned in my previous post, the first thing I do in class is have my students write and deliver two minute introductions. Obviously it gives me a sense of their writing and presentation skills, but more importantly it allows me to know who they are. Here's the prompt I give them:
Your first formal assignment is to compose and present a short introduction so I may better get to know you. I'm only looking for a two minute introduction. I would like you to type it out and then read it to the class. Make sure you save your work somewhere because I'm going to ask you to post it in your portfolio (more on that later). I'd like to get a sense of who you are and what your voice is. Not sure what to write? No problem ... here are some ideas to help get you started:
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are some of your goals for the year? For your life?
  • What is the most important physical object in your life? (take a photo of it and bring it to class)
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • When have you been embarrassed?
  • When have you worked on a project and completely lost track of time?
  • What is your favorite flavor of Jello?
  • How do you remain upbeat while reading the news?
  • When have you witnessed injustice?
  • Why can't cows walk backwards down stairs?
  • What is your guilty pleasure?
  • What has been occupying your mind most recently?
  • What did you regret posting on Facebook?
  • If the plural of ox is oxen shouldn't the plural of paradox be paradoxen?

You're welcome to answer any / all / none of these questions in your introduction.

Some of these sample questions are serious, and some are just weird. I wanted them to feel open to go wherever they wanted with these. 

If you're an English teacher, you have to read this response I got from one of my students:
My name is Nina, and don’t feel bad if you pronounce it wrong because everybody does. I have a younger sister Dawn who is my best friend and my favorite person. I am usually pretty quiet unless I’m around people I know really well or I’m ranting about something that I know a lot about. If I had to describe my interests in one word, that one word would be eclectic, and honestly, that's the only word that describes all of them. Keep in mind that this is a shortened list: chocolate, wombats, reading, the Beatles, saxophone, mythology, ancient languages, art and crafts, Japan, Homestuck, and etymology. Speaking of which, I will now address the paradoxen issue (I’ll try to keep it short because I could just go on and on).

English comes from mostly Germanic, French, and Latin because England was conquered by the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, and the French Normans. The ruling class were French noblemen, the peasants were Anglo-Saxon, and the religious people, such as monks and priests, spoke Latin. The peasants were simple people, and their language had simple words, like house, farm, pig, bread, ox. The nobles had much more fancy complex words like cuisine, dormitory, facetious, language, paradox. Germanic words have much less structure than Latin and French words, and many Germanic plurals seem to make no sense (goose and geese, sheep and sheep, mouse and mice, ox and oxen). And Germanic verbs? (think and thought, see and saw, go and went, grow and grew). The point is, the reason why oxen is the plural of ox and paradoxes (which actually comes from Greek before Latin) is the plural of paradox is because ox is a Germanic word.



  1. Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing your idea, and Nina's response. WOW! Sounds like you really get to know your students well this way! I may steal it... :-)
    Do you write one to share. With your students? I'd think those two minutes would be interesting, too!
    Thanks again, and enjoy the start of your year!

  2. Hi Joy,

    Yes, I do share one with my students. Here it is.

    Hi, my name is Kevin Brookhouser, but since I’m your teacher and at York School we have a tradition of students calling teachers by their last name, I guess I should say I’m Mr. Brookhouser. Some time last year students started calling me B-House or Mr. B-House. That’s fine too. Whatever makes you comfortable. I have been teaching English for about 15 years and this is my eleventh year teaching at York, a school I really love … mostly because of the its delicious tap water, but the students aren’t bad either. I am passionate about learning and teaching, particularly with a focus on how technology can make learning more effective and (ironically) more personal. I am really excited to be teaching you tenth graders this fall because that means I get to teach (and learn) Macbeth, my favorite Shakespeare play, which means it is my favorite play of all time, because Shakespeare is my favorite playwright. An English teacher who loves Shakespeare. Shocking, I know. I think Macbeth is Shakespeare’s funniest and scariest play. I know, tragedies aren’t meant to be funny, but Macbeth is such an idiot. I find the play scary because I believe that any of us could make Macbeth’s mistakes and meet his same tragic end. Other things you should know about me are that I have two dogs, Sasso and Paonia. I have one cat and his name is Colonel Areleano Buendia, but you can just call him The Colonel. And I have four chickens, The Patriot, El Toro Loco, Blue Thunder, and Bounty Hunter. If you know what those names have in common, you also have something in common with my nephew. I once rode a bicycle from Oregon to South Carolina, but I cheated by hitchhiking my way through part of Nebraska. Thank you.

  3. Love it! I am definitely going to do a 3-5th grade adaptation of that when I teach this schoolyear. Thanks for the inspiration, K.

  4. Great! Let me know how it goes, Cam.

  5. Kevin,

    Thanks for meeting with us on Tuesday. We completed our speeches today in class and I loved this assignment!!! I was duly impressed and amused with most of the speeches I heard (124 of them). Many of my students are afraid of am I. Gave us some common ground on which to build our relationship.

    Tomorrow Melissa is introducing the 20% project to her 8th graders and I am introducing it to my 7th graders next Friday. Can't wait to see what happens.

    On the parent front, sounds like Thomas has narrowed down his focus for his project in your class and he will be learning a new trade.

    Thanks again for the meeting and the inspiration.


    1. Hi Lori,

      It was great meeting with you the other day. I'm glad the introductions went well. I've found it useful on so many levels. I can't wait to hear how your 20% projects go. Keep checking back here where I will spotlight various projects.

      Stay in touch!


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