Monday, August 8, 2011

Back-To-School Monday

I hate to admit it,but I literally hate all those ice breaker games, etc.  Truth be told many of my students have told me later in the year they were so glad I didn't make them play those games.  

I won't ever say I don't play them, but they are usually far down on my list.

There are a few things I usually do during the first day of the school year though.

1.  On our first trip to use the restroom or to go to lunch, I ask everyone to line up.  Then when they are in line, I challenge them as a class to complete this task.  

Without ANY talking, they are rearrange in the line according to the orders of their birthdays.  They cannot get paper and/or pencil and they cannot talk.  The line should go from closest to the door is the first birthday of the calendar year.  The person farthest from the door is the person who has the last birthday of the calendar year.  I tell them I am going to time them. After everyone is in line in what they think is the correct order, they all are to raise their hands or set on the floor.  (I let them vote on which one they want.)  Then the fun begins.

The reason I do this is I want to see who can follow the directions of not talking, who thinks on their feet,  it gives me a good idea of who the leaders are going to be,  who has problems when they are not the leaders, who is cooperative and who isn't, as well as it gives students someone who has something in common with them to help with the nerves. I time it and we try it again around Christmas to see if they can beat their time.

2.  Many of the students that attend my school move on a regular basis. So in Science, I we construct a sticky-note graph. It gives me information about what they have been exposed to and what they haven't, if I know what school they attended previously.  The data is where they attended school the previous year.  We build the graph together so from day one I express what labels need to be, that this is a bar graph, how we come up the with title using the labels, etc.  It also gives me information about my students.  When I was in a traditional middle school, it told me what kind of classrooms they were coming from.  In some of the buildings they were with one teacher all day in a self-contained classroom, in another they would change classes, and I would know who was coming into the district new.

I also give my students a "show-off" test in Math.  A show-off test is a basic test of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I tell them this is their chance to show-off how much they know.  I tell that if everyone gets those things correct, I know we don't need to work on those things.

To me the first day sets the tone for the year.  A day with no learning, means that school day is not important, so I always have my kids work on something and learn something.  I would hate to guess how many student and their parents have told me how much they appreciate the fact the day wasn't in their words "wasted."  

What things do you do traditionally the first day with your students?  Please leave comments or if you have a post on your blog, share it so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to leave ice breaker games if you like them.  

(Don't forget to come back this evening for an opportunity to be selected to receive your choice of any item from my Teachers Pay Teachers.)


Jennifer Gibson

I love the birthdays idea. I think I will give that a go. I am not a huge fan of mixer games either. Thanks for sharing!

Lifelong Learning

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