How will you set the tone for what your classroom is about?
Starting off the school year with a list of what not to do, or a rules lecture creates a culture of compliance. I want out of the box thinking, risk taking, boundaries being pushed with innovative ideas. Which led me to write and share "Back to School 2.0". I hope you will find something useful and inspiring, that helps you to set the desired tone for your own classroom during that important first week of school. I would also recommend reading Don Wettrick's blog post "Create Culture First: Not Rules".
In this post you can explore ten free lessons/ideas for starting the year with creativity, inspiration, critical thinking, mystery, goal setting, collaboration, self reflection, and humor.
A word about Hyperdocs: when you see a button that says hyperdoc, what that means is you can click on it and see a teacher created lesson in Google slides or Google Docs. If you like what you see, just click on <file> <make a copy> to add it to your Google Drive. Once you have made your own copy, you will want to replace links to shared spaces like Padlet, Answer Garden, Google forms, and shared slide decks with your own links. If you don't do this, your students will be submitting their work to the teacher who created the lesson.
A Hyperdoc lesson which starts out with a hilarious animated short called "Selfie Cat". Students do some investigation into why we take selfie's, making inferences from a selfie, and how to take the best selfie. The lesson culminates in Project Selfie-with students putting their selfie skills to work by adding to a shared slide deck.
I made this "I am..." video as an example for the final project in the Selfie Hyperdoc, but it would make for a great project on it's own. I used iMovie to create it. It was my first iMovie video and it was actually quite easy to make.
Last summer I created a sketchnote of my bucket list. It was a set of things I was hoping to try out in my classroom for the first time that year. I uploaded the sketch to Thinglink and added touches to the image that led to resources related to each of my goals. Throughout the year, I added new touches which led to evidence of how those new things I tried turned out. I thought that this would make a great addition to a digital portfolio for students as well. Read more about this project in this blog post:The Bucket List. I liked it so much I made another Bucket List the next year and I wrote about the comparison of these two lists in this post: Reflection as a Tool for Innovation
If you must start the year with rules and expectations, try doing it in a funny way. I have created a slide show of memes that illustrate behavior that I don't like in a very humorous way. This lets kids know that while I do have expectations about how they conduct themselves in my class, learning can be fun...even when learning about rules. At the end of the slides I give them the chance to create memes about teacher behaviors that annoy them. It's only fair, right?
Want to create your own memes? Here is a slide deck that you can use with your class! Students can create a meme in Google slides without needing to access a meme generation website that will most likely be blocked. The slide deck includes visual and video directions making it super easy for students. Just click on Advice MEMEs Slides, and the click on "Flie" > "Make a Copy" to add this to your drive and assign it to students.
Jen Gripman shared this lesson on the Hyperdocs facebook page and it is one of my favorites. If you are liking the lessons that you are seeing in this blog post, check out the Hyperdocs web page, join the Hyperdocs Facebook group, or follow @TeachersGiveTeachers on Twitter. These are all great resources for free lessons to use in your classroom.
communication, collaboration & Critical Thinking
Group work norms:
- Everyone should contribute equally to the group.
- No one person should dominate the group. Give others a chance to speak and participate.
- Encourage group members to find different ways to solve the problem.
- Be open to other people's ideas and be willing to compromise.
- It is completely fine to disagree, so long as other different ideas are valued and respected.
- Challenge the idea rather than the person. Instead of saying, 'That doesn't make any sense!' try 'Can you explain the reasoning behind that idea?'
- Take time to build consensus with the group before moving forward with a plan.
- Be willing to work with a variety of people.
- Help each other to get all of the work done.
- Share victory AND defeat.
Last year when we did the marshmallow challenge I went into my closet to get my measuring tape and came out with a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man beanie on...and the class went wild (in a good way)! It's the tiny details in the delivery of your lessons that let kids know that learning is going to be an adventure in your class.
And Speaking of Group Work...
So, how did it go? I like using this pretend Twitter feed as an exit ticket, and it doesn't require a trip to the copy machine either. I use flat white board magnets on the wall next to my door that I painted with magnetic paint. Post-it notes or sentence strips would work too, I just like not using paper when possible. It's a great way to get a big picture view of what the students thought about the day.