3 Simple Activities to Help You Get Back Into the Swing of Things!
I know some states have been back to school for a while, but here in Michigan, we are just getting ready to go back! Kiddos in Michigan start the Tuesday after Labor Day every year...state law! We like to get as much summer vacationing "up North" in as we can!
Today was my first "official" day back at work, but I've been working in my classroom a little bit over the last few weeks. Isn't setting up fun? Seriously, no sarcasm! I LOVE setting up my room, especially since this year I HAVE a room! I'll post my classroom makeover in a future post because believe me it's a big change from what I walked into a few weeks ago!
Now that my room is ready to go, I sat down today with my teaching partners and we planned out our first week! I'm super excited to share what we've got planned with you because it is SO student-centered and EASY for the teacher to implement!
Since Labor Day week is just a 4-day week, here are 4 days worth of plans, all ready to go! All the activities are in my TpT Store, so if you are a middle school or high school ELA teacher hop on over and your first week will be all set!
The first day is a wild day...especially for incoming 6th graders or 9th graders. Students are overwhelmed with new teachers, new rules and routines in each hour, and wondering which friends are in their class. Many teachers begin day one with a lecture of expectations or a reading of the syllabus. Others start with icebreaker or get-to-know-you activities. I've decided to do things differently! I'm not going to stand in the front of the room and talk at my kids. I'm just going to say a general "hello, I'm Mrs. B", then sort the kids into 7 groups and let them loose at stations. (To make grouping easy, each desk will have a sticker on it when the kids come in to identify their group.) Each station consists of an activity designed to get kids talking to each other, to get them to understand me and my classroom, and for me to get to know my students. Here is a breakdown of the stations:
1. Syllabus Search-students read the syllabus looking for answers to questions I've asked on a worksheet.
2. ELA Continuum- students place a sticker along a continuum to show their perceived ability and interest in each ELA area.
3. Book Recommendations- students talk about books they've read and jot down favorites.
4. Goal Setting- Students create a speech bubble for a bulletin board by writing down a goal for the year.
5. Questions for the Teacher- students have a safe, anonymous place to jot down questions for the teacher.
6. Brainstorming the Perfect Teacher, Student, Classroom- students list ideas for what could be used to describe the ideal teacher, student, and classroom. (Further discussion to follow at a later date)
7. Taking a Selfie and Posting to Instagram - students will use an iPad to take a selfie and then create a bio for themselves which will later hang in our classroom so we can all get to know each other.
Our first day is just a half-day, so we may need to finish these activities on day two. I'm thinking the kids will really enjoy this, and it will give me time to meet kids at their groups to start building relationships right away!
The second day, we will get down to the business of rules, routines, and expectations. This can be a very dull lecture, so I decided to make it more fun. I've created a set of posters in "tween talk" to keep kids interested and to let them know that even though I do expect them to follow the rules and routines, I am not a big meany! I used these last year, and my 8th graders really responded well. We all laughed together, but my message was loud and clear. The file is in PDF form, but I showed it like a powerpoint presentation. After presenting and discussing, I will print the posters to hang in my room as a visual reminder to all students.
Day 3-4: What is Your Theme Song?
This is my ABSOLUTE, MOST FAVORITE activity to do with my kids!!! We are jumping right into learning and they don't even know it! Isn't that awesome? This is a 2-day activity with the first day being a quick intro (or review) of the definition of "theme". Then, in groups, students analyze lyrics to theme songs of popular TV shows (such as Scooby Doo, Phineas and Ferb, and Friends). They have to explain how the theme song matches the theme of the show. (I also have youtube clips for each song...I love hearing the kids sing along!). Then, once they've discussed all the TV show theme songs, I ask them to pick their own personal theme song. They have to pick a song and find the lyrics to bring back to school the next day. I always share mine first...it's "The Good Life" by One Republic. On day two, the students write an essay explaining WHY they chose the song to be their theme song. I share my example (included in the activity), but give no further help. These essays are my first look at students' writing AND I get to know about my students based on their song choices! I also ask students to share their song choices with each other...another kind of an icebreaker!
Whew! That's a full week of lessons and a full week of fun, without a full week of prep because it's all done for you! You can click on the pictures above to see previews and full descriptions of each activity. So get back to doing the fun stuff...decorating your room and enjoying the last few days of summer! I've got you covered!
Let me know how these activities work in your classroom by commenting below, by leaving feedback on TpT, or by emailing me directly at email@example.com! I wish you the best back to school EVER!