Ice Breakers~!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by CatfaceMeowmers, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Aug 3, 2015

    So I've had to change my first week of school about 30 times (mostly because I don't know the ways of the school yet). But after talking to a few teachers, I kind of get the jist. Before I begin, I will be teaching 6th grade math.

    The first day is enrolling students, that is signing their card and them signing yours. I was told this usually take the entire class period. So for those who are waiting, I have a survey and also some math review work that will get them into gear. Also, to better assist me in this day, I plan to sit students alphabetically (put their name on the smart board so that they are able to find their seats). No ideal, but it'll make the signing go faster.

    The second day is continue enrolling students. However, I do not want the students to sit alphabetically. I plan to give them all note cards with numbers that direct them to their numbered desk. This will be my seating chart for the first quarter or so. They had homework, so we'll check homework and go over rules and routines.

    The third day, more enrolling, rules and routines, and check homework. I was told it was important to get them working on math asap.

    For Thursday and Friday, I plan on finish up rules and routines and working a bit more on math.

    I will introduce their "semi-" interactive notebook the next week and we will work on that. HOLD ON! ICE BREAKERS?! WHERE ARE MY ICE BREAKERS!? I believe in order to have a great classroom culture, ice breakers and team building activities are needed. But it seems that my first two weeks are "booked" with other activities. I feel like waiting 3 weeks to finally do ice breakers is rubbish. I would love to do them the first day, but enrolling students comes first (same with day 3). I think ice breakers could happen on day 3, pushing back some of the math content.

    Honestly, I feel like I am pushing too hard on math at the very beginning. But this is what was told to me that would work. But me, as a first year teacher, I want to work on classroom management and spent a lot of time on rules and classroom culture.

    TL;DR When is a good time to do ice breakers? Is waiting a few days too long?
     
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  3. Cali1997

    Cali1997 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2015

    Personally, I wouldn't seat them one way on the first day and then completely change their seating the next. That may very well come across as a bit senseless to students and may make you appear disorganized, which is definitely not the impression you want to give. Why not keep them in alphabetical order for the first quarter and then change seating as necessary after that? That also has the added benefit of making it somewhat easier for you to learn their names. If you are determined for them not to sit in alphabetical order, it would be better, IMHO, to seat them the way you ultimately want them on the first day.

    As far as icebreakers and team building activities go, what exactly do you have planned? Do these students (or most of these students) already know one another? If they do, icebreakers, as such, are a bit pointless, anyway. If they don't already mostly know one another, I might have them introduce themselves, but I don't think I would go over the top with icebreakers or team building activities. You want students, especially if you are teaching middle school, to take you seriously from day one; the last thing you need is for them to think they are going to come to your class and play. Perhaps you could have them write an essay about themselves while you are completing enrollment activities. That should keep them quiet and focused on something constructive while you are doing what you need to do as far as enrollment goes, and it has the added benefit of affording you a means to learn about them on a much deeper level than superficial icebreakers ever could, especially when it comes to quiet or shy students.


    I would certainly spend time going over rules and procedures, but then I would get right into teaching. That said, if you give them an assignment on the first day that you plan to check the following day, make sure it is something they actually know how to do, not just something you think they should already know how to do.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 3, 2015

    I'm not a huge fan of icebreakers (I'm the one who heads to the washroom when we're supposed to do one at a workshop), but I know that others love them.

    I do a "Numbers About Me" activity during the first couple of days. The students need to write at least 6 numbers that represent them in some way (age, jersey number, birth month, etc). They must represent each number in as many ways as they can--product of factors, expanded form, words, using order of operations, etc. They create a small poster with the representations and others are able to determine the numbers. Students can work on something like this in between all of the administrative things that need to be done.
     
  5. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Aug 3, 2015

    Meh. Icebreakers. Not a fan.

    My students have mostly been together since Kindergarten.

    The closest I get to go an ice breaker is a goofy T/F quiz about me (a PowerPoint with photos and questions). I share a lot of random facts about myself this way. It seems like I always get a dozen or so kids saying things like, "I like to fish, too" or "I love enchiladas, too," or even something like, "you drive a Ford F150, why? Dodge Rams are better!" It may be hokey, but it is a simple connection that seems to get a lot of students off on the right foot in my classroom. My reputation among students tends to be "serious about English, but funny." So, my T/F quiz kinda sets that tone, too.

    My first class period with students is 7 mins long. We do a lot of administrative things on day 1. But, we still want students to get into their classrooms, meet the teacher, see their peers, etc. This is when I do my T/F quiz. On day 2 we launch into content.

    I concur with those saying to keep the same seating chart from the 1st day.
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Aug 3, 2015

    I second having them in the correct seats from day 1, or just leaving them in alpha order until you learn all their names. Changing it from day 1 to day 2 might make them think you don't know what you are doing.
     
  7. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Aug 3, 2015

    I think sometimes I feel more like an elementary teacher than a middle school teacher. But I DO NOT want to teach elementary.

    Now that you mention it, I think having them alphabetical would be a great way to memorize names. I am going to make a seating chart with their pictures, and I can have this ready a week or so before school starts, that way I can start learning names and faces. However, and this happens everywhere, what if other students get transferred? Should I rearrange seating so that it's alphabetical? Or sit them off where there is seating?

    And I was told a lot of these students don't know each other. They come from all different elementary schools, since we are an IB magnet school. I was also told since they are 6th grade, they are going to be very nervous the first few weeks (kinda like a honeymoon stage of quietness). But I don't want to depend on it - I definitely will lay down the law the first few weeks.

    I think perhaps introducing each other would be the best way. It's quick, easy, and won't cause embarrassment. They could say their name and what elementary school they came from.

    And I think I may do the note cards some other year. I read that having the students trying to find their seats causes trouble and chaos in the room, while giving them numbers and having the desks numbered would be easier. But I think I could manage the talking.

    Thanks everyone! I want to make this year easy on myself, not take on too many activities. I had so many procedures and rules planned that I think when I implement CHAMPS, it will all take care of itself.
     
  8. Cali1997

    Cali1997 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2015

    I would seat them in alphabetical order, and if other students transfer in, place them where there are open seats. If most don't know one another already, I would have them introduce themselves, but I wouldn't go overboard with icebreaker-type activities. As soon as you have handled all administrative concerns and spent some quality time reviewing your rules and procedures, I would delve into content. This likely will not be your first day, but should be within the first few days. Don't waste several days doing icebreakers or team activities; that's not what your class is ultimately about.
     
  9. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Aug 4, 2015

    As a huge fan of ice breakers I do not see the need for ice breakers in a typical classroom. If it were a specialized elective or program and the ice breakers tied directly to the goals of that program I'd be all for it. I do them heavily in my AVID class the first 3 days (and we continue with games all year long) but do absolutely none in my social studies classes. Doing it just to learn names seems like a serious waste of time.

    I still see way too much time spent on routines in your plan. They are 6th graders. They've been in school for 6 years. It doesn't take them long to figure it out.

    As far as seating, maybe I missed something, but why not do the numbered cards on day 1? I agree wholeheartedly that you should not change them day 2 but I also think having them sit around doing nothing while you call out 36 names to assign seats is a waste of time on day 1. The cards are a great solution.
     
  10. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Aug 4, 2015

    I always do ice breakers, a lots of them! But, I teach performance-based electives. The first few days, we go for names and basic facts. The next few weeks, we do team building activities to learn how to work together. We come back to these activities as we review certain communication skills as part of the curriculum.

    I have my students decorate index cards the first day. They write their name in their favorite color, then write their favorite candy, movie, book, and TV show. It gives me quick ways to make connections with the kids, and I save them so when a student needs a special treat or reward I know what kind of candy they will like!
     
  11. Dynamite Boys

    Dynamite Boys Companion

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    Aug 16, 2015

    I also teach 6th grade math. The transition to 6th grade it tough on a lot of kids - especially shy ones! My teaching partner (other 6th grade math teacher and I) have always been big on icebreakers during the first three days. Not only does it help me learn things about the students (you can discover the leaders pretty quickly, see who sits back, find your class clown and see friendship clicks, etc), but it helps the students learn about each other. Last year we didn't do as many games and jumped into curriculum a little faster - I was frustrated at the number of times I heard "that girl" or "that kid who sits in front of me" and other references implying they didn't know the kids in their class. However, they didn't. While school is about academics, I also feel it is important in middle school that we teach children how to socialize properly! Not knowing the kids in their classroom is not okay to me! So, this year we will go back to spending the first day talking about expectations, but adding in a game of somekind. The second day we will cover books - along with a game. The third day we will do a scavenger hunt - along with a game. I don't want students to be afraid to walk into my classroom and feel like it's only about math. I want them to know that I care about them and know some of their interests.
     

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