Share your favorite first week activities, please!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Caesar753, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2012

    What sorts of activities do you do with your classes to help them get back into the groove of school, become acquainted with your material, get to know each other, or whatever other things you do during the first week?

    I know that many of you get started on the material from Day 1, but that's not what I'm looking for. My admin has a very stupid rule about not doing "real" work during the first two weeks. I hate it, but they're the bosses and they get to make the call. I usually find a way to weave my material into some icebreaker-type activities. I'm looking to mix things up a little.

    Here's what I'm planning on doing for sure:

    Students make "My name is" cards in the target language (I teach a foreign language) for display in the classroom. Basically they get to color and glue and cut construction paper, but they also get to practice seeing, hearing, writing, and saying a little of the new language.

    Students get set up on Edmodo. I have to wait a couple of weeks to do this, though, because students have to get their computer AUP slips signed and turned in before we can use the computers.

    Students do a textbook inventory/scavenger hunt worksheet. Not super fun, but it gets them used to the textbook.
     
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  3. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Aug 2, 2012

    Hi Caesar,

    I'm not sure what grade you teach, but here are some things I do (I teach 4th grade):

    - People Bingo: I've created a blank sheet/grid with such categories as: "went out of state this summer", "has no brothers and no sisters", "likes the same color as you", etc. The students then roam around and see how many of their classmates can fill the squares. Perhaps, since you teach a foreign language, you could modify it... "has no hermanos and no hermanas". You can then have these "buzz words" on a board with their English translations or you can model, "I, myself, have one older hermano and a younger hermana." and they could guess what the words mean.
    - I have my students create houses of cards as teams. Again, this is good for grade 5.
    - "I have ______, who has ______?" - Each student gets a card with a number on it. So, for example, I have "7", Sarah has "13", and you have 26. I would say "I have 7, who has 6 more?" Sarah would say, "I have 13, who has twice that much?" You'd then answer, "I have 26, who has two less?" and so on. :) Again, you could maybe incorporate your language. "I have siete, who has seis mas?"

    Now, if I may ask you... I see you are going to have them set up Edmodo. Have you used this before? Do you get much use of it? Again, you may be teaching high school, but I am interested in trying this with my fourth-graders. :)

    (Sorry for going off topic and also that I didn't have more ideas to share).
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2012

    I'm high school. I thought I posted this in the Secondary Forum, but maybe it's in the wrong spot.

    As for Edmodo, yep I've used it in the past. It's quite useful. I post documents there for students, post links to online tests and quizzes, and next year I'm hoping to use it for listing absent work. It's very easy to use, totally free, and has great privacy settings.
     
  5. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 2, 2012

    Can you start to introduce them to the culture of your language? They could draw some murals of daily life or customs or something that you could display on the walls. Then they could do a gallery walk and each group could explain their mural.
     
  6. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Aug 2, 2012

    No, no... you DID post this in Secondary Education. :) It was my completely my mistake and I apologize.

    Thanks for your review of Edmodo. I like your idea of using it to post absent work. I think I just need to dig in and give it a shot...telling my students this is "beta". :)
     
  7. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Aug 2, 2012

    Hmmm...two weeks...wow. I can see a day or two of this type of things, but I hope your admin realizes how silly that it.

    Perhaps they can decorate their folders with things they like and describe these things with phrases in your language?

    One "Do Now" I am doing the second day of school is to have them write down two truths and a lie about themselves. They will then read these things, and the class has to figure out the lie. Perhaps if they are proficient enough (in the upper levels), they could write these in the target language....or just have everyone write down one interesting fact about themselves in the language and then put them in a hat, pick them out of the hat, and guess who the fact is describing.
     
  8. Rebecca1122

    Rebecca1122 Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2012

  9. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Aug 3, 2012

    My first activity is an Inspiration Card. Every kid gets an index card; on it, they write about something or someone that inspires them. It can be a quote or a sentence about someone... then I put them up around the room so everyone can say they have something up in the classroom.

    Then they make an About Me poster. I think you could adapt this nicely for foreign languages and the different levels in the language. Use an 8.5x11 sheet, landscape. Have them put their name in the center. Each corner is different... I use parts of speech. Top left: What is your favorite food (noun)? Top right: What is your favorite activity (verb)? so on and so forth. These make up my bulletin board until we get into work.

    I do a sort of scavenger hunt. Mine is for modeling music for management, hand signals and launch buttons, and call backs. While we're modeling and practicing, they move around the room for each command (Find a place where you would get your makeup work, find a place where you could sharpen your pencil), etc... I'm not sure how this would work for you, with a small room and large classes.
     
  10. Keylay

    Keylay Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2012

    I was a student government advisor and day one we always did team building lesson day one in leadership class. So I have decided carry this over to my classes a year ago and it worked amazing.

    First day will be like this:

    Bellwork - Students sign in as the enter the door, and they get a note card. They write on a note card their name, grade, 3 things they hope to get out of this class, and what do they want to do after high school? (My entire class is focuses on what students can do after they leave. However, it is geared for them to get interested in 4 year programs such as computer science, computer engineering, or IT majors)

    Then I turn them in, and once I don't see any of them I introduce myself as their teacher and tell them what the overall goal is for my class. "To be able to work together and solve problems, and today I want to get to know everyone one of you."

    I gather the notecards and pull one from random. I read out load his name, recognize him, and read out one of his better "what would you like to get out of the class" answers. I tell the students that this student is a leader because he is going to lead us in the first lesson. I tell this student "it is your responsibility to get all students standing in a circle around the tables within 1 minute, without any of them running. You will be graded on this to make sure it is done correctly the first time."

    It gets done. I say thank you to the student and as they stand there and I am in the middle of all them, I pull another name, have them step forward and read what they want to get out of the class. I tell this student that their responsibly is to make sure everyone knows how to complete the next task and if they have a problem they are going to ask them. However only one person may talk at the beginning and I pick another student to monitor this.

    The game I play with them is with the thumball. You through it and whatever is under your thumb you share about yourself. You toss it to everyone in the group. I pick another student's card and tell this student they are to keep track of who the ball gets thrown to and tell when it is over. Few of my rules I explain is you cannot change what you have, you have to be quite unless you have the ball or recognized by the monitor, and you have to clap after someone says what they say.

    Afterwards they return back to their seats. Then, I ask them the question, "How was doing this activity relevant to the course goal?" I am trying to get them to say that we had to work together in order to know each other, and some classes get the idea of a icebreaker more than others.

    Then, I pull another card and do the same thing. "__________ is a leader because they are going to lead us in the next activity. __________ can you go get the folder on that table over there and give everyone a piece of paper." I pull a card out and this person is in charge of people not running in the classroom, another to make sure it doesn't get to load, and one more for students to ask if they forget the rules.. They play the bingo game where they need to find someone for each square that did or likes something in their life. I am sure most of you have seen it. "Has been to Europe", "Knows a second language", "has a dog and a cat" type of stuff. I only give them 5 minutes to complete as many as they can. Then, we sit down and see who has the most bingos on their card.

    Then we talk about the goal on this one. By this time I have used about 30 minutes of a 50 minute period. You know the 8 cards I pulled out, and how I told each of them they were leaders? Well, I move them around so there is one at each table, and give them a computer science unplugged problem to solve, and they only have 5 minutes to solve it. They will complete it, and we spend the rest of the period comparing answers between groups.

    Last year student enjoyed this so much. I believe in empowering students to make the right decisions, will make your year go easier because if done correctly your students admire and respect you. We all know students don't always make the right decisions. Thinking about it people don't make the right decisions. However, you gave them the chance to fail. You will be a more effective teacher because they understand that you care about them, and you can become not only a teacher but a mentor.

    All of this is guided. They keyword is you must guide your students to the right answers, but it is still their decision. This isn't for a teacher that likes to sit at a desk while students are doing homework, and this requires you to do the assignment with the students.

    If this backfires on you, the way to recoup is to ask the students " Why did we have a hard time making a circle? Why did we choose to run?" and follow up with "How could we correct this in the future?"
     
  11. trulyunic

    trulyunic Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2012

    I'm a first year foreign language high school teacher but I have a few ideas that I want to use in our first week back. We are on 90 min block schedules and I'll see my classes twice in the first week. Other than going over basics such as the class expectations some procedures, student etc I am going to focus on creating a classroom environment of collaboration and problem solving from the beginning. I also want to really bring more culture into my class.

    1. Problem solving mystery. Students will be in random groups. Each group will have clues to the mystery and have to solve it example "who was the mystery person bullfighting in Spain" "who was hiding out at tenochtitlan after the bank robbery" etc. The context would be set in a TL county with facts about the country/place interwoven into the clues. Each student has 3-5 clues and Each must read them aloud and the group will arrange them in order to figure out the question of he mystery. After, discuss the mystery maybe with authentic powerpoint pictures of the TL country/area as well. Also discuss dynamics of how the group worked like was there a leader? What was challenging about the groups? How did you navigate that challenge to get the activity completed? What was good about working in the group? I hope that makes sense, I'm still tweaking it. I got this idea from here http://www.edteck.com/rigor/lessons/detective/ and I'm trying to adapt it for a FL class
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  12. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Aug 3, 2012

    Trulyunic, that sounds like such an awesome idea. I'm going to try to adapt it to my class. I've been scratching my head trying to figure out what to do for the first day of school because I don't want to just start out teaching either. I won't know any of the students and want to get to know them better and get them to be able to work as a group.
     
  13. MissApple

    MissApple Companion

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    Aug 5, 2012

    I do a teacher true false test on the first day to help the kids get to know me. I give them a paper with 10 - 15 statements about me and they have to guess which are true. Once they're done I tell them the correct answers using a power point of photos like the house I grew up in in NY, the variety of pets I've head, me during the summer I had pink hair etc. It helps them feel comfortable and build a rapport with me almost instantly.

    Interestingly enough, I found the most impactful slide was about me having 3 siblings, because I drew a picture of all of them and the kids were shocked to see we're an interracial mix. Every single class had someone point out I have a black (step-)brother, and a mixed sister.
     
  14. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Aug 5, 2012

    There are several great ideas here, but MissApple, I'd like to know how you follow up on this. Do the kids do a similar activity so you get to know them?
     
  15. mikemack42

    mikemack42 Companion

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    Aug 6, 2012

    So we're taking reviewing procedures and rules as a given, right? Besides that, show why your subject is important, teach them how to take notes, how you expect their notebook/binder to be organized, write a letter with some basic information about them (their previous experience with this subject, basic family information, something about their interests outside of school). Share a similar letter from you to them. That covers five classes, then I'm into class material. Two weeks is insane. I would have my first assessment be some kind of getting-to-know-you conversation, then use those first two weeks to teach those structures. It's real work, but it can be passed off as getting-to-know-you work.

    Regarding Trulyunic's post about jumping into group work, I would always recommend teaching good group work procedures first, rather than after doing it. I say that based on my own experience of just letting them choose their own groups and go, which is a terrible idea as a teacher. The other reason I'd be cautious about starting off with group work is that I think teachers should always choose the groups that students work in, but it's difficult to choose at that point because you don't know the students that well.
     
  16. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Aug 7, 2012

    Rebecca - I checked the link out and LOVE it! I am going to give it a try too. We will have to remember to come back here and compare our notes - or start a new thread.

    I'm going in and numbering my desks this week.

    Do we then do a seating chart the following week? The one thing I'm worried about is getting to learn the names and faces. I am very bad with remembering names. I've tried using the yearbook from last year, but kids change so much between the beginning of 7th grade and the beginning of 8th.

    What are you planning on doing?
     
  17. MissApple

    MissApple Companion

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    Aug 7, 2012

    I have the kids do two truths and a lie, since it's in a similar vein to the T/F activity. I wish I could have them all make T/F tests and powerpoints but that would use up way too much time : )

    I also do student interest inventories and spend time just talking to them in the beginning.
     
  18. FlavioSousa

    FlavioSousa Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2012

    I know this is not what you're looking for but what I do is take them on a ride on the local ho ho bus. They love it and it's a great way to start the year.
     

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