I dare you to walk into a school today that doesn't ring with the sound of staplers, where you can't be immediately enveloped in the smell of the hot and ready laminator. Ah, the sounds and smells of back to school!
My hope is that maybe, just maybe you've turned the corner in your room and have begun to think about
I've got a confession to make. The past couple of years I've rushed into the curriculum. I like normalcy (well...as close as anyone can get in the classroom), so I jumped into grammar foldables and journal topics and short stories...oh my! And you know what- I regret it! My kids liked me and liked my class, but neither of us was truly invested in one another. I've seen the power of relationships. They are able to conquer more than foldables, prompts, and stories alone. Please don't rush the academia. You'll get there soon enough, and with strong relationships, you'll be able to achieve greater success.
Developing relationships doesn't have to be kumbaya or chaos. It can still be purposeful. Here is a great idea from our friend Katie Peterson who teaches 10th and 11th grade English in San Francisco. (So cool! Katie, let us know if you ever want us to come visit!!)
I developed the pitchforking idea into a First Day activity. We start school on a Friday--40 minute periods for each class, with basically just enough time for the name game and looking at the syllabus. Instead, here's what I did:
- Each student needs a piece of paper folded so that it shows 6 boxes. Number the boxes 1-12, using the front and back of the page
- Pair students; Provide each pair a question card (I had 12 total--one question for each numbered box; totally random questions: everything form "Best song of 2014 so far?" to "Agree or Disagree: Poetry is Everywhere")
- Students match up with other pairs, introduce themselves and exchange questions.
- Students write the names of the people from which they received the question at the bottom of the corresponding number box, then answer the question with a pitchfork.
- By the end, hopefully they will have met just about everyone. And even better: We talked about how they've practiced each skill they'll need to be successful in English class: Follow directions, organize answers and arguments, collaborate, ask each other to explain why and how they arrived at answers, take risks by meeting new people and tackling questions you've never seen before, etc.