I love back to school time! I might complain a little about having to give up my summer sleep schedule, but I am always ready to go back and get to know my new group of students. I think we all know that those first few days are crucial for setting a positive tone for the year, so I work really hard to build a community where everyone feels important and involved.
This year, I decided to bundle some of my favorite activities for the first week of school and offer them in my stores. Even if you don’t use my packet, I want to share a couple of my favorite ideas with you. First up is a teacher KWL chart. KWL charts aren’t anything new, but have you ever had students fill one out about YOU before? They’re a great way to address any misconceptions students might have about you (like you’re the meanest teaching in your grade level and give the most homework too). I like to open up about myself first so that students feel more comfortable when it’s their turn to share. As a bonus, students are practicing their listening and writing skills right from the start as they record my answers on their KWL chart.
I use another familiar form every year to help us make connections with each other… Venn Diagrams! Students compare and contrast themselves with a new friend by recording personal facts in each section of the chart. I especially like this activity because students often have to dig a little to find things they have in common. After they complete their charts, they flip the papers over and write a paragraph about their new friend. Again, this has students practicing so many important skills (listening, writing, turn-taking). It also allows me to informally assess their writing ability, love that!
Those are just two of my favorites, but several more are in my packet. What are some of your favorite activities for community building during back to school time?