This is my third year of retirement.
I still miss the classroom.
Every week, I meet with a group of retired educators.
A few weeks ago, one of these educators and I decided to volunteer at a school where our former principal is now assigned.
We will be providing a two hour block for teachers to have a gift of time.
My friend, a master naturalist, will be taking the students on a nature hike and also doing an art activity.
I will be teaching a writing lesson.
I created a Power Point and a nature-word-bank.
The Power Point has a story organizer; a verb, noun, and preposition word bank; and sentence starters.
I also created a video of a nature hike in order to give another opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and feelings of a nature walk.
The beginning of each school year is so much fun and so exciting.
Students are learning new things about themselves.
It is also a time for students and teachers to get to know each other.
There are some great word cloud apps that students can use to share a bit about themselves.
Before students do the word app, they need to have had discussion and be exposed to literature and word bank examples of character and personality traits. The book, The Color of Us by Karen Katz is a great book to use for teaching diversity and all about our uniqueness.
Here are two activities that can jump start this getting to know you activity.
1. An activity to get students moving might be to post different character traits word cards all over the room. Blow a whistle and have students run, jump, skip, or whatever movement you call, to one word that describes them best. Do this about 4 or 5 times so students can see that they have more than one character or personality trait.
2. Name alliteration activity: Students have to choose a trait that describes them. This trait has to start with the same letter of their first name: Patient Pam, Dedicated Dave, etc.
Make a word bank or have students offer different traits to be displayed on a class chart.
Word Cloud apps
Wordle is a word cloud app that is excellent for a colorful display of character and personality trait words.
Tagxedo was one of my favorite apps. The app provides different shapes for the word clouds.
For this activity, I would take a picture of each student. This picture became the word cloud of words that described them.
I have included a Word Bank that can be used as starters or for ESL students. The class can discuss these words, and add words to them. Word Bank word cloud
Save this product, and then repeat the activity at mid-year.
Discuss changes and growth.
Make a new All About Me word cloud.
4. Art Project for Kids This site provides a template
5. Students can work in teams to make a Legos Emotion Chart.
They can discuss and explain possible factors that cause these particular feelings and emotions.
This can be easily done with technology apps such as seesaw and educreations.
There is a Lego Movie Maker App where students can set up scenarios with their Lego people and tell the story.
6. Students can work in groups to build an object of their choice.
The teacher will guide a discussion as to the meaning of team work.
Have the students decide what roles each person should take in order to be successful.
Students will learn how to: set goals, pace their work, and be responsible and engaged in their work.
This involves working as a team to agree on the object to be built.
For math, they can graph the Legos they used by color.
For writing, they can choose to write a description of their object, explain the sequential process of building the object, or write a story or a poem about their object.
There are many ways to use Legos in class.
This is just for starters.
It is the week before school starts.
You are being pulled in different directions.
It will all fall in place.
The Teacher Fairy will come in at night and get it all done…
Well, maybe not.
Just remember to keep your room simple, organized, and non-cluttered.
It will be more inviting to the students and conducive to learning if the room is ready for the students to set up with the displaying of their work. Blank walls with pretty border is all you really need.
Here is a suggested check list of the basics for a productive learning environment:
1. Math manipulatives for the unit at hand are organized and ready for students to use.
2. Science books and manipulatives for the unit at hand are on display and readily accessible to students.
3. Classroom library is organized, comfortable, and accessible to students.
4. Technology equipment is working, and accessible to students.
5. Writing Station is designated with rules posted and paper, technology, and writing instruments organized and accessible.
6. Students have at least one wall to display their work. Hopefully there is more wall space for display.
7. Anchor Charts are ready to be made and there is a place that is accessible for students to review after initial instruction.
8. Students have a place to store their own supplies.
9. A place to post classroom rules after the rules are decided on and discussed by the class.
10. Teacher area is minimal. You just need a place/small table to pull for small groups.
No desk is really needed if you keep your things organized in rolling carts with shelves.
A friend of mine is using the character trait theme of Be…
Each week she will introduce different character traits.
Follow up activities include: writing in journals (paper and or digital), drawing, make digital journals demonstrating these characters in action, taking selfies, etc.
I made this quizlet to provide the vocabulary for discussion.
Follow up activities:
SeeSaw app: Students can work in pairs or groups to take pictures of students acting out each of these traits. Or they can draw pictures. Then they will write about how this picture or drawing represents the meaning of the trait; or explain the scenario of where and when a student is displaying this trait.
For example, a photo can be taken of a student in the cafeteria line, showing respect to the workers in the cafeteria.
Camera phone and selfie stick: Students can take pictures of themself with some buddies as they demonstrate one of these traits. They can insert these photos into See Saw or Educreations.
Students can keep an online journal using the Moleskin app.
In this journal, they can record times and photos that their group demonstrated one of these traits.
Recently, I met with some teachers who asked me if I was going to continue making the calendar of special days.
So, here is one for September.
These calendars are most effective if viewed ahead of time.
Then you can plan more activities such as dressing up for Speak Like a Pirate Day, etc.
There is also a Math Story Telling Day and a Reading Day that has the potential for many fun activities.