Back To School Fun With Sticky Notes

The new school year is an exciting but also slightly nerve-wracking time of the year for both students and teachers.  I know I always have the dreaded "Nightmare Before School Starts" that usually involves me standing in front of a classroom full of chaos!

I like to start off my first class with students by introducing myself as more than "just a teacher".  I want students to know that I have a life beyond the classroom - I'm a mountain biker, a snowboarder, a hiker, a wife, a dog owner, a traveller, a reader... it's amazing how many kids I can connect with over the activities I participate in!  Finding a connection with kids is so important to me and it's done wonders over the years to build great rapport with my students.  I have a fun "Back to School Survey" I give students to get to know them a little bit better and I encourage them to share their answers with each other.  Download a FREE copy of the survey from an earlier blog post HERE.

Sticky Notes can also be a powerful tool for getting to know students and creating an open and sharing classroom.  I have piles on my desk and I want students to get used to the idea of sharing ideas on the board so I do a few activities in the first few days with sticky notes.  When students are asked questions and then told they can post their answers anonymously on the board they are more likely to be very forthcoming with their answers.

  • ask students to write down two things they're excited about and one thing they're nervous about in regards to your class - post them on the board and then discuss with the class
  • ask a fun question - "If you could perform with any band in world who would it be?" or "If you were a car, what would you be?" and share their answers they've posted on the board
  • ask students for advice as you start off the year - "Write down two things that would make this class work really well for you."  OR "Great teachers __________________"
  • One of the subjects I teach is Geography so to get kids thinking about my subject area I'll ask them to write down their favorite city, their dream vacation destination, the closest volcano to our school, list two environmental concerns...
  • When I teach English, I ask students to write down their favorite book, their favorite character, what fictional city they'd love to visit, the book character they're most like....
  • The students love the see what everyone else has come up with, but they also love the fact that it's anonymous so they're not self-conscious about writing down an answer.

Check out the linky over at Corkboard Connections for all sorts of great ideas to start building a caring classroom environment right from the first day of school!

Hope you have a smooth transition into your classroom this  
new school year!


Fun Back to School Student Survey

Seems like Back to School is happening so quickly for some of you!! (I've still got 6 glorious weeks left... but don't be jealous... some of you have already been off for two months!!)

I have a love-hate relationship with the first week back to school - it's great to see my fabulous co-workers, catch up with friends, and see students back in my classes. However, it's also a frenzy of paperwork and administrivia that can bog us all down as we try to start off a new school year. 

I currently teach in a high-school (grades 8-12) and my students will cycle through all 8 of their classes in the first two days.  They must feel shell shocked as they sit through 8 classes of expectations and course outlines... so I like to start off things a little differently.  (I usually leave course expectations etc. until the 3rd or 4th class when things have settled down a bit.)

Here's a survey I've used with my students in the past and they've had a ton of fun with it. Instead of the usual survey questions for Back to School, I've made things a little quirky and different. For example, I've asked students to list the song that got stuck in their heads the most this summer (for me it was "Payphone" by Maroon 5... just goes 'round and 'round my head sometimes!!) Or to list their favorite flavor of ice-cream (Ben & Jerry's Phish Phood - chocolate caramel goodness!).

As an extension idea I ask students to write a paragraph to justify one of their answers to a question of their choice.

Download a FREE copy from my TpT Store!  Download includes teacher activity suggestions, survey and writing paper.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Freebie Fridays

The 2012 Summer Olympics Activities

I love the Olympics.... I mean I really LOVE them! I love the way so many nations of the world come together for sport and celebration. I love watching athletes overcome challenges to put their best foot forward while representing their country. I love what the Winter Olympics did for my hometown in 2010 - the feeling in Vancouver was unlike any I've ever felt before and the pure joy of the event will live with me forever.  Lastly, I love the values that the Olympics can teach students... work hard, play nice, the honor of representing one's country, and the importance of taking care of yourself physically and mentally.

I really wish (sounds weird, I know...) that I was teaching during the Summer Olympics as there are so many great teaching opportunities  that can cover so many subject areas and grade levels.

Here are a few fun suggestions for those of you teaching this summer (or even for those of you who are back to school in August)
  • Follow an athlete from your hometown, state or province.  See what kind of background information you can find on them and then track their progress at the Games.
  • Create a new Olympic sport and test out the activity with your classmates / students.
  • Keep track of the medal count and work out the percentage of gold, silver and bronze that your country wins. Create a poster to track the medal count.
  • Have students "adopt" an athlete from another country - find out their story and a little bit about their country and then share with the class.
  • "Adopt" another country to cheer for and find out as much as you can about their athletes.  
  • Make a medal count prediction and award the person who came closest. 
  • Research London, England and find out what they did to prepare for the Games. 
  • Research the history of the Olympics and have students present some of the main ideas to the class. 
  • Have your own Olympic games - but keep it light and fun and combine athletic events with math and literacy events. 
  • I'm sure that there are 100s more engaging activities that you can do to highlight the Olympics.  Share your favorite below!
Here's a FUN FREEBIE for you to use with students that involves them pretending to attend the Olympics and then writing a "postcard" and sending it home.  Click the image below to download a copy of the activity - template and extension ideas included!

Hope you're all having a fantastic summer! Let the Games begin!

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