Skip to main content

Getting to Know My Students - Opening Activities Enhanced with EdTech

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” ― Charles Bukowski

We are back! It is awesome to see students again!

A week before school started, I discovered an Edutopia article about community building in the classroom. 

Relationships Matter More Than Rules - Community building in the classroom starts on day one. Try these strategies to begin forging strong relationships.
This article inspired me to rethink how I start the year, so last week I welcomed my students to the 2017 - 18 School year with a collection of activities that I hope will help us build a more powerful learning community. Here are a few reflections on my first week of getting to know my students.

Day 1: Notecards, Seating Charts, and Riddles

Students chose their own seats as they walked in the room.
I enjoyed this more than telling them where to sit. It was also good to observe who chose which locations and which groups. It is taking me a bit longer to learn some names without the alphabetical order I've used in the past. I plan to use a few times to get them collaborating and communicating with random groups.

Each student received a notecard and I asked them to respond to the question, "What do I need to know?"
I was purposefully vague, to get them thinking. Maybe I was a bit too vague because the students were all over the place. Some talked about themselves, some talked about me, and some added some randomness to my reading. There were even quite a few who did not include their names. I initially felt this was a failure, but I was able to adjust and follow up with an activity on day 2.

Reboot the Noggin Episode 1 - Critical Thinking and Collaboration Activity
Instead of jumping into content or classroom stuff, I decided to start the year with this activity. It took a bit to get the students collaborating and it was more difficult as the groups got bigger. We had a great discussion about engagement in larger groups. I am hoping we can build on this for future whole class collaboration. 

Day 2: Questions to Start the School Year, Communication Resources, and YouVideo Project

Questions to start the school year
We started our day having a conversation about the note cards not telling me much of what I needed to know. We had fun with some of the note card comments from day 1. (All names were changed to protect the innocent.) Inspired by Tom Murray's post, I followed up the note card activity with a Google Form asking more specific questions. I think our fail forward discussion about the day 1 note cards inspired my students. I received some of the best responses ever to the questions in a getting to know you survey

Sharing who you are with Flipgrid video responses
I've done something similar before, but I updated our YouVideo activity to engage students in some digital communication. I really enjoyed the creative use of props this year and I am looking forward to having my students figure out what the props tell us about each student. Students will be partnered with a Give 1 Get 1 Activity that asked them to talk to someone they don't know well and share something important to them. I will assign students groups based on the Give 1 Get 1 Activity and they will respond to the YouVideo Flipgrids with their video responses. 

Digital communication resources
Updated some of our digital engagement communication resources. Looking forward to expanding our use of these resources throughout the year.

Day 3: This is Water Video and Classroom Norms

Perspective and Empathy
Watched "This is Water" and discussed empathy and perspective. Students engaged in the video, but I  had to work really hard to get the discussion going. Maybe it was a Monday thing? I still have some work to do to get students taking ownership of the conversation. I am hoping our 1st HyperDoc will continue to support the process of shifting their mindset from teacher-let to student-owned. 

Classroom norms discussion and Padlet
Students participated in a think-pair-share to get the discussion started about how we can maintain a culture of learning. I followed up with this slide deck based on the discussions and asked them to share what was missing in a classroom Padlet. 

Day 4: Attendance Questions

Getting to know names and personalities with attendance questions.
A posted a quick question on the board and we went around the room with every student giving a short response. I went traditional teacher and asked them a classic question, "What is one thing that will stick to your 2017 summer memories?". I plan on using these attendance questions on Tuesdays and Thursdays to continue building our learning community. 

The Future
We will continue to build on these activities as we move forward as a community of learners. Up next will be a student-centered HyperDoc to get them adjusted to a more learner-centered classroom. 

What are your favorite activities to get to know your students?

Popular Posts

Developing a Future Ready Classroom With the 4 Cs - Free Flipped PD Opportunity

The skills connected to collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are essential for all students. The best classroom activities engage students in content while providing opportunities to practice the 4Cs in learner-centered environments.

The best professional development also models the 4 Cs for staff. We've created a free flipped PD HyperDoc to connect educators to 4 Cs resources and experiences. Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Developing a Future Ready Classroom with the 4 Cs HyperDoc

Share Your Learning Experience Learn something new? Have a resource to share? Maybe a question? Please engage in the conversation using one or more of these resources.
Padlet - CollaborationPadlet - CommunicationPadlet - CreativityPadlet - Critical ThinkingFlipgrid - Share Your Why

How Will You Welcome Back Students in 2018?

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something." Neil Gaiman
I hope everyone is enjoying their breaks and looking forward to reconnecting with your students in 2018?

How will you start the new year with your students?  Will you jump right into the content? Reflect on the break or 2017? Something fun? Something different?

Please share your thoughts and ideas for 2018 in the comments below?
I've decided to do something new to welcome my students back. This year we will be working through a HyperDoc to start 2018. HyperDocs are not new for my students, but most of them are connected to our content. My welcome back HyperDoc will include:

A review of events and stories from 2017.Student creation of an Avatar conne…

HyperDocs - Frameworks for the 4 Cs in Student-Centered Classrooms

HyperDocs are powerful digital activities that shift the focus of learning from the teacher to the students. The best HyperDocs support essential skills connected to collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

Source: About HyperDocs HyperDoc Fundamentals
HyperDocs are powerful frameworks to support inquiry-based learning. HyperDocs allow students to explore interactive resources at their own pace. HyperDocs are digital frameworks that can support differentiated learning. HyperDocs don't just present the facts. HyperDocs use questions, problems, and scenarios to help students learn, explore, and create. HyperDocs provide options for student voice and give students choices in how to engage in the content. HyperDocs support individual, small group, and whole class opportunities.HyperDocs connected to Formative Assessments help students know what they know and explore what they don't know.
HyperDoc Resources
Want to learn more about using HyperDocs to support coll…