Opening Week Activities to Learn More about Students
Here are five ideas that may be adapted for various content areas. See adaptations at the links. The assignments can be as simple or complex as time and resources permit. I’ve used them all as first week assignment and students do the work in class so I can observe, listen and learn.
Students can present their products to one another in small groups or to whole class depending on the number of students and the length of the class meetings. Then, their work is posted around the room or on the class website so families can view online or in class during first parent night. Knowing their work will be displayed encourages students to complete it with more care. Knowing the work will be ungraded if submitted complete and on time reduces the pressure and because they’re describing themselves, most students do outstanding work!
IDENTITY STRIPS: Who Am I? Individual Identity Strips created on 2 feet of adding machine tape, then interwoven to show what class the has in common. http://teachingenglishlanguagearts.com/literary-weaving-strip/
Guess Who’s COMING TO DINNER? Students invite to dinner literary charactors, current or historical personages in the content area and then describe the meal, the conversation, the personalities. Could be “real” or imaginary home. Depending on the community, some students are reluctant to write about their real home. So, okay to make it a fantasy dinner. http://teachingenglishlanguagearts.com/guess-whos-coming-to-dinner-for-two-books/
Living With a NAME – Students read short text, then conduct simple research on their names and share experiences living with those names. Some teachers have students interview one another and the write and present what they learn about their classmate/partner.
Creating a MANDALA – Students create a graphic depiction of themselves that includes words, symbols: animal, plant, geometric; colors, quotations, etc. By definition a mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. It also may be a symbol in a dream, representing the dreamer’s search for completeness and self-unity.
This is a version of the family shield or herald on which students choose and share words, symbols, colors, etc. to demonstrate who they are.
We ask students to create this mandala on a 9 to 10 inch circle, about the size of a paper dinner plate. Details are similar to those required on identity strips above.
Creating an ACROSTIC POEM – Students write their names vertically, then add words oe phrases that describe them or indicate ideas that are special or important to them. Add graphics to support words.