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Middle school teacher Cathleen Beachboard gives homework to her students’ families a few weeks before school starts—she asks them to describe their child in a million words or less. The information she gets back allows her to get a jump start on forming relationships with her students that will help them bring their best to the classroom throughout the school year. Beachboard has made an editable version of the Million Words handout available for other educators to use (requires Google sign-in to make a copy).
The Million Words activity originated with teacher Deb Bova on the MiddleWeb site in 2003 but has endless variations.