Wow! Is it really time to start back up? Where did that summer go? Gosh, it seems every year at this time I start saying that, as we begin thinking about ways to start up the year!
In our classroom, we try very hard to begin right away with encouraging student voice and building community. Here are some ways we do that:
- Community Meeting: After we get the fun job of supplies put away, the very first thing we do is have our first community meeting. We sit in a big circle where we get the chance to see our new community members for the first time! We then go around the room and at least introduce ourselves by saying our names. The students, however, are encouraged to share their name AND at least one thing they would like everyone to know about themselves! We also explain what our Idea Box is at this time in order to start the year with the students having the opportunity to share their ideas or concerns at our weekly Community Meetings.
I did, however, just find a new activity online called Common Threads that I thought
sounded so cool! I found the activity, along with other fun ideas, at A-Z Teacher Stuff.
Here is the activity:
Materials: ball of twine, kite string, or mason’s line One student (or teacher) has the ball of string and shares one small fact about their life or an interest they have. Any other student in the classroom finds a way to connect, and raises their hand. The student with the twine holds the end of the twine and chooses where to pass it, preference given to students who have not connected yet. Each student who has connected holds the string and passes the ball of twine. The object is to have all students share something, creating a “web” that shows we are all connected through each other. The connections sometimes get very fun and creative, and rewinding the ball of twine shows you a thing or two about how manageable your class is! (John Markealli)
- Classroom Constitution: In small groups, the kids will discuss the question, What are the responsibilities of our classroom community members? We will then get together as a large group, share out our ideas, and agree upon the ideas we want as part of our Classroom Constitution. We will record these on chart paper while the students are agreeing on their ideas. (After school, I usually rewrite the constitution so that it fits on one piece of chart paper we can hang up. Before hanging it up, we all sign it.)
- Constitution Posters: The students will again get in small groups. Each group will get one of the ideas from our Classroom Constitution. They will write it on a piece of 12" x 18" white construction paper, along with an illustration of what it can look like. We will hang these posters around the room.
- Find Someone Who: We love including the good ol' activity, Find Someone Who to allow the students to learn a little more about their new community members, as well as hopefully make connections amongst each other! I found the above link, which gives a detailed version of what the activity is, as well as a sample of the activity page.
- Recess and Lunch Expectations: I know in a lot of classrooms, the teacher delivers the students with the cafeteria and playground rules sometime during that first day; however, we do it differently. We have the students sit down with us and help us to develop the expectations of the students at recess and lunch. We try to focus on what they SHOULD do, versus what they SHOULD NOT do. Because they help us develop these expectations, they are more aware of them and take more ownership of them!