First Days Back to School – some online activities

Good afternoon!! Sitting in my sunny back yard with the pond bubbling and just finished a webinar about the first few days back to school. Technology has made the process of introductions so much easier by doing online activities. Students (almost) all have devices that enable them to access the internet, so with  school based websites, it is a safe place for them to go and have fun.  So the rule of most teachers that I have connected with online is that the student has to have their phone/iPad: 1. on silent, 2. face down, and 3.in the corner of their desk. This allows students the comfort that it is there, and the ease for teachers knowing they aren’t trying to play with it. If a student doesn’t have a device they could be given a school one if they need internet access for an activity. Allowing students to use their device in a controlled way is better than expecting them not to use it at all. Allowing the option of using a school chromebook or iPad also allows them to save their time if they have limited use on their device. (prepaid cards)  I feel if they get to look up stuff online they are equipped with some knowledge to add to the class discussion in an informed way that allows others to comment and gets more student involvement. So back to introductory activities – initially the teacher has a presentation ready to share with the class showing a map with several pins in it. This could be on the SmartBoard, or what ever device you have in your class.  As he/she clicks on the pins information shows along with a picture – streetview – that tells why that spot is important to the teacher. Once you, as the teacher, have gone through your pins, and answered any questions that students had, allow them to do the same for themselves. So each student puts three or four pins on a map, with a streetview photo, adds a few lines of text about the place, and why they pinned it. This can be a collection of places that have been important to the student – where they live, where they went for holidays, where a relative lives, or even where they want to visit one day and why.( Documents, including this map activity, created in the student’s google drive account can be shared with others in the class.)It gets students active and sharing without being awkward like most ice breaker games. Another idea was to have the students answer some questions  using google forms or index card. Google forms allows the information to be gathered and charted in real time. The teacher can use this to gain information about the students, such as if they like reading, have siblings, play sports, have hobbies, favorite subject, ever been out of the country, province, or state. The resulting graph can be shown to the class to see the overall dynamics of the class. Perhaps it is a class that has students liking math the most or physical education, whatever it is, it is a fun bit of information to share with the class.  The teacher can use this information later to develop a scavenger hunt game for the class. If your using index cards just have students write three facts about themselves on the index cards and collect them. (Make sure their name is on it somewhere) Then the teacher can make a scavenger hunt asking students to find someone that likes science best, or has only sisters, or likes soccer. I have done this before and set up a grid on the paper like a bingo card and the students had to get one line, then four corners and then full card. (This way the activity can be done in different blocks depending how much time you have.) So eventually they find answers to all the questions and learn about their classmates. If you are teaching older grades that require a syllabus you can send a copy home, not going over it in class,( as it is pretty boring and they can read it on their own) and include some important questions from the syllabus on the scavenger hunt as well. If you have included class rules in the syllabus handout you can add these questions to the scavenger hunt as well. So I hope these all help and if you have other ideas I would love to hear them in my comments section. I am an elementary teacher but I don’t mind hearing any suggestions as some readers may teach junior and senior high and would like some new ideas. Have a great rest of the weekend fellow educators!! Your in Education, Donna MacTavish, Canada .

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