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Five great ways to start the school year

With many teachers heading back to the classroom this week, several recent conversations seem appropriate here. I spent some time talking with secondary social studies teachers and a few elementary teachers about the kinds of things they plan on doing during the first few days of school.

I’ve posted five of those ideas below.

1. Use Wordle to have kids generate their own personal word clouds. Have them enter words that describe their physical traits, personality, hobbies, interests, books, video games . . . really anything that would help someone else get a clear picture of who they are. Don’t forget to create one of your own.

Later during the school year, have kids use Wordle to do the same thing by describing historical characters.

2. Create a short tech survey for kids to complete. The quickest way to gather data would be to use Google Docs to create an online survey but paper and pencil work too. This gives you data that can help you plan instruction. Questions should include such things as:

  • do you have a computer at home?
  • do you have a cell phone?
  • what is your text plan?
  • other mobile devices?
  • internet speed at home?
  • printer?
  • digital camera?

3. We’re never too old to go back and read the classics. During the first few weeks of school, review Harry Wong’s – The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

4. Head over to the web site titled: 101 Things You Can Do During the First Three Weeks of School. It’s written from a higher ed perspective but has some insight and ideas for dealing with students. One of my new favorites is to take lots of pictures early on and post them around the room and online. It’s a quick and easy way to generate a “family” feel in your room.

5. All of us should be asking students to complete at least one learning styles or multiple intelligences survey early on in the school year. The more we know about how they learn, the better our instruction and their learning become.

You can find a collection of several different types of surveys that I’ve put together over at Social Studies Central.

Have a great week!

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love the idea of pictures of students. I remember an English teacher I had in HS had posted a candid photo of every one of his students on the wall. It was awesome walking into his room. I felt he cared about us with this simple gesture.

    After teaching for 10 years, I have never reflected about how this impacted me! Thanks for the post!

    August 17, 2010
  2. Teaching history, I like to compare what a historian does to crime fighting: research is to detective work what papers are to prosecutors’ work. I’ll post a blog on it in another couple of days.

    I like the idea of having the students describe themselves and later use the same process to describe historical figures. In the first week, I want to ask my students to bring in documents that they have from home about themselves, such as a certificate, birthday card from grandma, e-mail from a cousin or a to-do list. Then ask the students to use the documents to get to know each other better in small-group work. I’ll let the world know how it goes after I have tried it!!

    Thanks, for the great blog!

    August 17, 2010

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