- Students probably won't remember anything about class procedures on the first day anyway. Chances are every other teacher is giving them procedures, and they're going to forget who accepts late work, who has limited hall passes, etc.
- Since it's an elective class, some students go into it still wondering if they should have picked another class. By throwing them into an activity, they get a glimpse of what actually goes on in the classroom, and hopefully decide to stay.
- It gives me a preview of students' personalities. Who is a leader, who is a goofball, who is shy, etc. I don't hold this preview against them later, but at least I get a feel for group dynamics.
Anyway, I stumbled on a site called xtranormal. You pick characters and some background elements, and you write out a conversation for them. The nice thing about it is that you can jump right in without having to create an account. Unfortunately, if you want to save your video or view it high quality, you do have to create an account. Also, they run a point system that really only allows you to create one video for free, and after that it'll cost you. (The wonderful folks at xtranormal may give you a bunch of free points if you email them and explain that you're a teacher and you're using it for educational purposes.)
This is what I came up with to start the first day of class.
So I had the students go into the lab and work either by themselves or in groups of 2-3. They simply came up with a conversation, added character motions, etc. I'll give it a 'mildly successful' rating. Kids were laughing a lot, and seemed pretty excited to be in the computer lab on day 1, but the quality of what they came up with was quite marginal.
Also, one more thing about xtranormal is that it does contain some inappropriate material. It's not so bad that I wouldn't use it in class, but I did give the class a heads up and told them to avoid it. (Some female characters are dressed inappropriately, and there are a few character gestures that aren't appropriate.) I don't think any of them had problems. (I also told them that I can monitor every single computer in the classroom. Which I can, just not very often.)