8.10.2011

Are You Ready for the First Day of School?



I still get nervous on the first day of school each year. Having twenty-five pairs of teenage eyes staring at you like you are the last person they want to listen to can be very intimidating. That's why icebreakers are so popular on the first day. It loosens the students up and takes a little of the focus off you and places it on them.

There are oodles of icebreaker ideas out on the web. Here are some sights with multiple ideas:
http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson131.shtml
http://712educators.about.com/cs/icebreakers/a/icebreakers.htm
https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_650dvtj3dgk

The question is, which icebreaker do you use? Which ones have been most popular in your classroom?

I've used many different ones and have had the most success with using humor to break the ice. Because I teach English, it's common for me to start with some images of public grammar or spelling mistakes. The underlying message, of course, is how important English class is. (See link below for a presentation I use.)

Another activity is using the format of David Letterman's Top 10 lists to have students compose a "Top 10 reasons why it's great to be back in school" or the "Top 10 reasons why being a sophomore is better than being a freshman" (or switch it around for different groups). I try to give them positive choices so they think of the GOOD things about school. So if a student wants to write a top 10 list on why your class sucks, you might want to steer that person in another direction! You can download this free activity here.
Back to School Top 10 Lists Activity

I also have free BINGO templates for a "get-to-know-you" activity, which works to get the students moving around.

One assignment that I love giving is for them to create a collage mobile. I usually assign this on the second day, having it due by the end of the week or the following week, depending on whether we start on a Monday or mid-week. Since we begin on Thursday this year, I will assign it Friday and they will need to complete it by Wednesday. We only spend a little time in class on it, then they have to complete it on their own. It's now uploaded on the site, so you can click the "collage mobile" link above.

If you are looking for a presentation with a compilation of public mistakes that show the importance of English, here is a link to my Powerpoint: Using Humor in English.... I usually don't show all the slides the first day. I give them a tease of a few, then we come back to it later in the year, using specific examples for certain kinds of mistakes (whether it is punctuation, spelling, word usage, etc.). It never fails to make them laugh.

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