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Be Careful With Your Words

Help students understand the importance of thinking before they speak. I just went to an inservice that did an interesting thing in the beginning. The instructor asked for a volunteer to come up. She was handed a tube of toothpaste to squeeze out all over a piece of construction paper. The volunteer squeezed it all out. Then the instructor asked her to put it back in the tube. The volunteer said she couldn't. Then she was thanked and sat down. The instructor said the toothpaste symbolized words that are said and they cannot be taken back. It is "out there" and no apology can erase it. I thought this would be a good beginning of the year demonstration. I think I'm going to use it to remind my class to be more careful with their words.

Submitted by: Anna XannaRod@email-removed.

First Week Homework

A great way to get parents involved in the new year. The homework I assign for the first week of school is for the kids to go home and ask their parents, discuss with them or think about how they use reading, math, language, science, and S.S. during the day. Each day I focus on a different subject. If the focus is reading then they go home and ask their parents what they read that day and why being able to read was important or useful to them that day. The next day we create a large poster with all the uses listed.

Submitted by: folsterj@email-removed

"Get to Know Your Class" Scavenger Hunt

Help your parents and students become familiar with the classroom. At our Open House/Orientation for the children, my kids do a scavenger hunt to familiarize them with the class. They find the pencil sharpener, certain books, their desk etc. It is a terrific ice breaker really encourages them to mingle with others.

Submitted by: Eileen SEWREADIT@email-removed

Me In A Bag

A fun way for students to not only learn about you, but to also learn about each other. At the beginning of the year, I introduce myself using 'Me In A Bag.' I put a few items that represent me in a large paper sack. In my sack, I put a paintbrush because I'm an artist, my favorite book, my favorite food, pictures of my family and my pets, my favorite CD and a cookbook. The children sit around me, and I explain the significance of each item as I pull it out of the bag. This discussion helps the kids get to know me as a person. Each child then has a turn to bring in his/her own 'Me In A Bag,' giving everyone in the class a chance to shine."

Submitted by: Jan Formisano , a second grade teacher in Falls Church, Virginia. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.

Parental Expectations

This is a great way for parents to share their concerns and expectations with you. "I give parents a homework assignment within the first two weeks of school. I ask them to write me a letter about their expectations for their child in the coming year. I explain that it can include emotional needs, physical needs, academic areas and any information about past experiences that did or did not work well for them. I refer to the letters during conferences and return them at the end of the year. It gives me great insight to begin the year, and in most cases the parents see their goals for the year touched upon in some way."

Submitted by: Patti Donnelly pattid@email-removed , a second and third grade teacher at Ephesus Elementary School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.

"Pass the Toilet Paper" Ice-breaker

This can be an amusing first day activity. It also helps your students learn more about each other. On the first day of school, I pass around a roll of toilet tissue. I do not tell them what they will be using it for but explain that they should tear off as much as they need. Later, we count the amount of squares and then in a group, each student tell us one thing about himself for each square of toilet tissue. This is a great "ice-breaker" and the students get a laugh out of it!

Submitted by: HALARADA@email-removed

Personalized Plates

This is a great activity for the beginning of school that can be displayed for an open house. "The first assignment I give each school year is to have my students describe themselves in eight or fewer letters and/or numbers. I give them a license plate template and tell them that they need to create a personal plate that best describes an important aspect of their character. They decorate their plates and explain why their choice of letters or numbers fits them. I post the plates around the room so they get to see what their classmates say about themselves. The license plates are always a big hit at parent open house."

Submitted by: Sue Schmitt sschmitt@email-removed , an English teacher at Antioch Community High School in Antioch, Illinois. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.

Reading & Math Text

This are hand-on activities to allow students to review upcoming concepts and do quick assessments. My reading activity is to have them look through their reader and find a story that interests them and jot down the title and a reason or two why they feel this way. They share with the class. We also go through the book and we categorize the stories according to what kind of reading material it is. Poetry, historical fiction, biographical, informational, folklore, etc. We graph the results. I do the same for math. I have them look through the book and tell me what they think they will be studying in math this year. I list these on a poster board. We also talk about what concept(s) are dealt with the longest.

Submitted by: folsterj@email-removed


Get your students off on the right foot. I ask my students write the school rules and classroom rules. We do this together rather than me just telling them and posting them. Getting them involved in doing this seems to make them feel in a way that they should not break the rules they made themselves. Of course the rules are the ones I would have posted anyway.

Submitted by: Theresa Youssef

Social Studies Text Review

An activity to help get your students familiar with their text books, as well as to complete a KWL. I divide the class into several groups of four and have them browse through their Social Studies text. Each group is assigned a different chapter. They fill out a sheet that asks what the chapter is about (Title), What they already know about the chapter, what they would like to find out, and what they think they will learn by reading it. KWL - Each group shares their results with the class. We put their sheets in a class book and when I begin the chapter I read the group's comments to the class.

Submitted by: folsterj@email-removed

Student Name & Photo Cards

Learn student names easily and have a resource for the entire year. I have each student's name and picture on a 3x5" index card on a ring. I use the previous year's pix which are in my school's office. These are then used in the classroom to call on children so that I am more apt to call on each student. Subs love them because they can put a face to a name. Because I teach 2 classes of math, both classes are on a ring and I use different color cards for each class.

Submitted by: Jean Carpenter

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