Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1st Week Idea

I admit it, I'm guilty. I am guilty of trying to condense the entire first week's worth of ice breakers and procedures into the first day of school.  I think I do this because I'm so eager to get to the part of the school year where students are learning and eagerly sharing ideas with one another. I'm ready for the part where my classroom runs smoothly and I don't have to go over how to set up notebooks and center expectations.  However, I've also learned through trial and error that the first week(s) of school need to be spent going over procedures and expectations so the rest of the year can run smoothly.

I stumbled upon this great idea on pinterest and immediately added it to my first week lesson plans.

Essentially, students are completing a Venn Diagram about themselves and a buddy.  Pretty simple idea, but then I got to thinking about why this would be important.

1: It's a great, non-threatening review of Venn Diagrams and what it means to compare and contrast two people.  Since the comparing and contrasting of two individuals is a cornerstone of RL 5.3, it's a sneak peek formative assessment.

2: It's a non-threatening format that students are familiar with.  It doesn't involve notebooks.

3: It's a great way to establish speaking and listening norms.  I would model this with a co-teacher to show students what is expected in a conversation.  We could also model appropriate voice levels, thus reviewing another classroom expectation.

I wouldn't do this the first day of school.  Instead, I foresee this as a great Tuesday through Thursday activity.

At our school, we use Kagan grouping structures, which means I have my students in groups of four to six that change every six weeks (or so).  In each group, there is a "high flyer", a medium student, a lower student, and usually a student with an IEP (since I am inclusion).  The students work together and learn from one another.

On the first day, I would have students interview their "shoulder partner" who is the person sitting next to them.

The second day would be devoted to interviewing their "face partner" who is the person directly across from them.

The final day would be interviewing their "kiddy corner" partner.  Then they will share out with the group and make a four way Venn Diagram (I'd provide the templates) about their table teams.  

From there, we would do a gallery walk to learn more about the other table teams.

During this fifteen minutes, I would monitor for appropriate voice levels and have the opportunity to teach Kagan structures and group expectations.

I'm excited to give this new idea a try!  I also plan to repeat it within small groups once we start switching during the second week of school.

How would you make this activity even better?

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