Starting the School Year with Fun!

I blogged about back to school last July here: Starting off the School Year. Since it is the end of July–it’s time for another back to school post! My blog last year was about my mistakes in reading the syllabus on the first day and not making it fun! So on that note, here are some ways you can make the first few days of school more engaging!

Check out this Indiana Jones group activity to make going over your syllabus, policies and procedures more engaging (from Ryan Stephans of Summit Trail Middle School who adapted it from John Meehan @MeehanEDU).

Check out some Classroom Management Tips for High School classes here: Students of History

Have students use emoji’s and words to write about what they are most looking forward to for the school year. You can ask them to write about: — your content specifically
—the school year
—their extra-curricular activities
—what they are passionate about
—how they learn best
—what they look forward to in a teacher,
—and so much more!
This is a good one to use INSTEAD of asking how their summer was. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, around 25% of children in America will experience at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. That means there is a very good chance that one or more of your students had an event during the summer they don’t want to talk about. Or some of your students may have struggled to find full meals over the summer, they may have searched for stability and a routine, and so they are looking forward to the return to school!

Facing History has a great back to school toolkit for getting to know your students and building a strong community in your classroom. You can download the lessons and use all of them, or just parts! Screenshot below of the lesson options.

Icebreakers that Rock from Cult of Pedagogy has some great ideas!

Have students play Ask, Ask, Switch with some icebreaker questions. Create little cards with questions on them. Students find someone across the room to partner with. The partners ask and share answers to the question cards they have. They then switch cards and find a new partner.

Student Surveys–have students complete a student survey about their likes, hobbies, favorites, and expectations for learning in your classroom. Here are ideas from:
Education World
–From Pernille Ripp’s Blog
–From Catlin Tucker

Scavenger Hunt–this is a fun one to do if you are also using it to teach content (think about Geography and using it as a map skills lesson). You can use GooseChase (but it’s only free for up to three teams) as a digital option or get creative and use Google Forms with branching!

The Card Tower–What do we have in common? Divide students into groups of four. Give each group a stack of index cards and the challenge of being the group who builds the tallest card tower in the class. But there is a catch! Before they can use the card in the tower, you have to write something on it that every member of the team has in common. Set a timer and watch the kids have fun learning about their commonalities.

So….what are your plans for the first days of school? What are you going to do that builds safety, community, and fun so students look forward to your class?

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