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First Day Activities, Teach@CUNY

First-Day Activities: Writing a Class Constitution

By Cathy Davidson

On the first day of class, I often have students write a “Class Constitution” defining what they hope to accomplish, how they will work together, and other interactions. I typically start with a constitution someone else has written, put it on a Google Doc, and then give the students half an hour to edit it.  Often they work in groups on parts of the Constitution and then come together for editing. I’ve been doing this for so long that we are now in ten or twelfth-generation iterations, sometimes from many different universities and sometimes even different countries and languages.  Again, it’s about having students think deeply about the purpose of their own education and being invested in that process as active learners.  Here’s a blog post in which I talk about this in greater detail.

Dr. Cathy Davidson is  Director of the Futures Initiative and a Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center.

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