Hey everybody! This is Terry from Terry's Teaching Tidbits. I don't know about you, but I only have one week left of summer vacation and then it's back to the classroom for another year of teaching 5th graders.
As a 5th grade teacher, it's very important to get your students' attention on the first day of school and amp them up for a fantastic year, especially because in my school it's the last year of their elementary career. To do this, I have a great ice breaker activity that I like to do with my class; it's one that I did back when I did musical theatre as a kid in order to become more comfortable with our castmates.
On the very FIRST and very LAST day of school, I do this same activity. I even tell my students this when we get started. I have everyone arrange their desks in a huge circle and we each get a piece of lined paper and a writing utensil. Everyone writes their name on the very top of the paper. When everyone is ready, I say "pass" and we pass the paper to the left. Whatever name is on the paper that is in front of you, you have to write one positive thing about that person. Once everybody has written on the paper in front of them, I say "pass" and we once again pass to the left. A few important things during this activity - everyone is quiet and everyone must write something and it can only be positive.
After a lot of passing, the activity is over when you receive the paper back that has your name on the top. When you get it, you read all of the wonderful things that everybody had to say about you. I have my students put it somewhere special and safe where they can pull it out at any time if they are having a bad day. I usually suggest their pencil pouch. I keep mine in my desk. I know have 5 years worth of first day and last day papers of compliments and I still love reading them to this day.
The reason I have my students do this activity on both the first and last day is because it's amazing how much the comments change in that time. They go from being more superficial comments such as "I like your hair" to, "you really made me laugh all year long". The comments become more personal, and they are definitely more meaningful on the page that I receive back with my name on it. This activity can be just as important for us as teachers as it can be for our students. My students are usually harassing me by the last week of school about when we're going to do the activity from the first day.
For those of you who have students in upper grades, I definitely recommend this activity. It's a fantastic way to boost every student's self esteem on the first day, allow them to get to know their classmates, and to especially make any new students in the class feel welcome. I've only seen positive results with this and I hope that you can use it in your classroom.
Here's to a great new school year!