Summer’s over, *sigh*, and the new school year is beginning. We’re usually sad to see the summer go. However, the beginning of the school year is an exciting, fresh start. There are a bunch of ways to spend those first few crucial days. Moreover, what you do at the beginning of the school year sets the tone for the rest of the year. It’s your students’ first experience with your teaching style, class expectations, and your unique classroom culture. The following beginning of the school year activities engage students and encourage them to work hard, both independently and with their peers.
1. Design Challenges
With design challenges, students create a prototype within provided constraints. Design challenges are fun, collaborative, and require skills students will continue to develop throughout the school year. Therefore, they are ideal for an activity at the beginning of the school year. A well-known example of this type of activity is the Marshmallow Challenge. In this challenge, students must work together to build a tower that houses a marshmallow. Not only do students love it, but it also serves as a great project and a way to assess your students’ skills with a low-stakes assignment.
2. Setting Class Norms for the Beginning of the School Year and Beyond
Students must understand what’s expected of them in your classroom at the beginning of the school year. However, laying down the classroom law doesn’t have to be boring. Fun, student-centered beginning of the school year activities that focus on creating class norms empower students by allowing them to have a say. Thus, allowing students to create class norms provides them with a sense of agency and accountability.
3. Untraditional Ice Breakers for Relationship Building at the Beginning of the School Year
Classroom ice breakers are a fun way to get to know your students and for students to get to know each other. Let’s take it a little further than the traditional ice breakers that are typically used at the beginning of the school year. Fun getting-to-know the teacher games, low-stakes “all about me” projects, and structured games are not only a fun way for you to get to know your students and for students to get to know each other but the accompanying student work can also be rigorous and communicate to quality of work you expect.
Whether you begin with a design challenge, setting class norms, or an untraditional ice breaker, start the school year off strong by empowering students, setting high expectations, getting students to collaborate all while having fun.
Strapped for time? Want to equip ALL students to participate and succeed? Check out these resources to start the year off strong for ALL types of learners.