Let's Get It Started!


Like many, I had a wonderful July 4th holiday at the lake with my entire family. I was able to relax, shut my brain off and have a good time without thinking of anything work-related. Then, upon returning home, reality set in. The family all traveled back to their respective homes and we had an empty house for the first time in weeks. My brain suddenly went wild with thoughts of starting the school year. How will I welcome my 150 new students? How will I make them feel a part of our team? What should our team shirts look like? Since my brain was ping ponging around, I decided to start with first day (or week) activities. Here are some ideas I’m currently throwing around.

Believe in Your #Selfie

Allow students to take a selfie and post on the bulletin board, along with a hashtag and one word that best describes them. You should also have students include their name. This not only helps you learn your students’ names but gives students a sense of community.

QR Code Kids (adapted from The Techie Teacher)

This is a great idea for Open House night! Have students record their voice using a site such as Vocaroo and link it to a QR code. They can talk about their goals for this school year or how excited they are about the new year. Be creative! Take their picture and have them paste the QR code on top. (Helpful Hint: Have students hold a little whiteboard when you take the picture so the QR can be pasted on top of the whiteboard. It also helps to print the pictures on cardstock so they stand up better.) Use a 1” binder clip as a stand or just post around the room. Give parents time to scan the QR code on Open House night. Sit back and watch their eyes light up as they hear how excited their child is about learning!

All About ME

If you teach middle school, you understand that students are very ME-focused. (“Let’s talk about me. Okay, now let’s talk more about me!”) Make a Google Slide presentation where each student can have their own slide to insert a picture and a few details about themselves. Alice Keeler has great instructions on how to make a master slide presentation to share for this activity. I plan on writing a shortened link on the board or posting it on Canvas. (Hint: Use goo.gl URL shortener extension in Chrome.) This activity will help you learn students’ names, help students learn each other’s names and also help you get a feel of how well students can use Google Slides. This is also a great presentation to have playing in your classroom on Open House night. If you’re planning on doing this, make sure you include something more meaningful than just facts, such as a goal for the year or one thing the student is most excited about.

It’s always my goal for my students to go home every night and tell their parents how much fun their math class is. I teach 8th grade so getting this accomplished is not always easy! As long as you stay student-centered, it’s hard to go wrong. Have fun and make sure your students are having fun and learning as well!


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