Elaine Fedderke, a ninth-grade English teacher in Ohio
On the first day of school, I list six statements about myself. Three of the statements are true and three are false, in no particular order. I ask the students to decide which ones might be true about me. After they have made their decisions, I explain which are which. Then I have the students make six true/false statements and trade with a partner to decide which are which.
The final step is to choose one of their true statements, and use it as a topic sentence and compose a paragraph about it. I collect their writing samples and use them to get a handle on their writing ability right away on the first day. I can skim them as the next class is doing statements and paragraphs and not really have any papers to grade.