First Day = Half Day Introductions!
I was in an interesting position this year as I was transitioned from English I to English III: I needed a creative icebreaker even though most students knew me. We started class with a “How well do you know Mrs. K?” quiz. It was actually fun to see what students thought about me and why they thought these things. Basically, it was a multiple choice quiz with questions like, “Where does Mrs. K come from?” “What kind of dog does she have?” “What does her husband do for a living?”
Next, we did a fun balloon activity with our expectations. See, I have one rule. RESPECT. And we discuss that in our room, it is given until otherwise re-evaluated because if we all felt like it had to be earned no one would get anywhere.
The free plan and PPT can be found here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Balloon-Study-Icebreaker-and-Expectation-Setting-Activity-837721
Here is the outline:
1. Students complete a half-sheet question sheet with four questions: A. What strengths do you bring to this course? B. What weaknesses do you bring to this course? C. What do you need your classmates to do to help you be successful? D. What do you need your teachers to do to help you be successful? Students were told NOT to put their names on the page and to answer as honestly as possible.
2. Answer sheets were folder up and tucked into a balloon. We then blew up the balloons. As a vital step, all students needed the exact same color or balloons to avoid identifying the author of the page. I used dark blue because it also meant if the students wrote in marker, the color was dark enough to mask it so no one could recognize handwriting or writing utensils.
3. Students spent two minutes NOT letting the balloons touch the floor. In hindsight this should have been less because it felt like forever watching them bang balloons around.
4. Every student grabs a balloon. Students divided into two teams, popped their balloons, and tracked the answers to the questions.
5. As a class, we reviewed strengths and weaknesses. Just as I hoped, some student weaknesses were doubled as strengths. Worked like a charm to promote teambuilding and asking classmates for help during activities.
6. As a class, we reviewed expectations of the teachers and I was able to 100% agree to their expectations of me.
7. As a class, we reviewed expectations of peers. These linked perfectly with the strengths and weaknesses as well as the expectations of the teacher.
This became then became Kirk’s Classroom Constitution. Now that we have written one and they saw the effort that went into it, maybe they will have a better understanding of the real deal when we come to it.
Ideas? Questions? Comments? Please! This is my first time doing this, and I’m do my very best to prepare my students for the EOC, PARCC, and the future.