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Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't Just Put a Movie On-- Back to School Edition

In eight days I am going to have students sitting in front of me, expecting me to be prepared, rested, exciting, firm, strict, fun, easy going, and most importantly care about them.  Of course all those listed come from a list my students have generated in the past about their expectations of their teachers.  As we enter the beginning of the school year, I wanted to share some of the first day activities for you to either steal or borrow from if you would like.

First Day Name Games--
There are too many to count but I always like to ask students to share their name and an adjective that they feel represents them, but it has to begin with the same letter their names does.  For example, I am "jabbering John."

Another one to test different classes is a name game where everyone stands in a circle and you have to throw the ball to someone.  I would take the ball and shout across to Jenny "Here Jenny" and I would throw the ball to her.  She would catch it and say "Thanks John, here you go Allison," and so on.  Once you get through everyone you can add balls to the list and have a competition between the teams.

First Day Activities-- 
Get everyone to talk.  Not just their name, but something else.  I start class off with a question each day for students to share before we get to talking about anything.  I start this on day one, so before I even introduce myself, I do the Question of the Day.

Also, talk about what students know or can talk about on the first day.  I have a questionnaire that I have students fill out that has anything from what they want to be when they grow up to what expectations do they have for me.  These questions are topics that most anyone can talk about on day one.

First Week Games: Communication Games--
Since so much of my class is discussion based and centered around the idea that we all need to listen and communicate with one another, I spend a lot of time in the first week playing communication games.  Whenever you say "game" you almost always get buy in from your students instead of "let's have a discussion about how we communicate."  There is a great collection of games that you can find online.  I have my favorite ones that I like to use  (Schmidt and Schmoo).

 More Back to School Edition posts to come as we get back!


  1. Hey John! I love your blog! Could you send me a message or post how to play Schmidt and Schmoo? I feel like we have used it in a group setting together before, but it has been so long!

  2. Dearest Mrs. Horan (I wrote Bryar but that is not the case anymore!),
    Schmidt and Schmoo is played with two objects (anything you want). You begin by getting students in a circle and telling them that the two objects are no longer whatever they really are and are now a schmidt and a schmoo.
    You turn to the student on your right and say, "Ben this is a schmidt." Ben responds by saying, "A what?" You response with "A schmidt." Ben then says, "oh a schmidt!"
    Ben turns to the person next to him and says "Miranda this is a schmidt." Miranda says, "A what?" Ben turns back to you and says "A what?" You say "A schmidt" and it gets passed back to Miranda. This continues being passed (somewhat like telephone) around the circle.

    While the scmidt is going counterclockwise around the circle, the schmoo is going clockwise around the circle. The object of the game is to get both objects entirely around the circle. It is a great communication game that can teach many different concepts such as feedback, how to communicate, team building, etc. We played it with Dave Zamansky at Upward Bound... remember now?

    Sorry for taking so long responding, it has been a crazy week!

    Miss you!