Physical characteristics usually do not include clothing, but if you teach the primary grades, you might allow students to include clothing in their descriptions. Put all the physical characteristic index cards in a shoe box, mix them up, and distribute one card to each student, making sure that no student gets his or her own card. Give students ten minutes to search for the person who fits the description on the card they hold.
There is no talking during this activity, but students can walk around the room. At the end of the activity, tell students to write on the card the name of the student who best matches the description. Then have students share their results. How many students guessed correctly? Patricia McHugh, John W. Set up a circle of chairs with one less chair than the number of students in the class. Play music as the students circle around the chairs.
When the music stops, the students must sit in a seat. Unlike the traditional game, the person without a seat is not out. Instead, someone must make room for that person.
Then remove another seat and start the music again. The kids end up on one another's laps and sharing chairs! You can play this game outside, and you can end it whenever you wish. Afterward, stress the teamwork and cooperation the game took, and how students needed to accept one another to be successful.
Reinforce that idea by repeating this game throughout the year. Danielle Weston, Willard School, Sanford, Maine Hands-On Activity Have students begin this activity by listing at least 25 words that describe them and the things they like. No sentences allowed, just words! Then ask each student to use a dark pen to trace the pattern of his or her hand with the fingers spread apart. Provide another sheet of paper that the student can place on top of the tracing.
Because the tracing was done with a dark pen, the outline should be visible on the sheet below. Direct students to use the outlines as guides and to write their words around it. Provide students a variety of different colored pencils or markers to use as they write. Then invite students to share their work with the class. They might cut out the hand outlines and mount them on construction paper so you can display the hands for open house.
Challenge each parent to identify his or her child's hand. Then provide each student with five different-colored paper strips. Have each student write a different talent on separate paper strips, then create a mini paper chain with the strips by linking the five talents together. As students complete their mini chains, use extra strips of paper to link the mini chains together to create one long class chain.
Have students stand and hold the growing chain as you link the pieces together. Once the entire chain is constructed and linked, lead a discussion about what the chain demonstrates -- for example, all the students have talents; all the students have things they do well; together, the students have many talents; if they work together, classmates can accomplish anything; the class is stronger when students work together than when individual students work on their own.
Hang the chain in the room as a constant reminder to students of the talents they possess and the benefits of teamwork. Your school librarian might have a discard pile you can draw from. Invite students to search through the magazines for pictures, words, or anything else that might be used to describe them. Then use an overhead projector or another source of bright light to create a silhouette of each student's profile; have each student sit in front of the light source as you or another student traces the outline of the silhouette on a sheet of by inch paper taped to the wall.
Have students cut out their silhouettes, then fill them with a collage of pictures and words that express their identity. Then give each student an opportunity to share his or her silhouette with the group and talk about why he or she chose some of the elements in the collage. Post the silhouettes to create a sense of "our homeroom. You can use such cards to gather other information too, such as school schedule, why the student signed up for the class, whether the student has a part-time job, and whether he or she has access to the Internet at home.
As a final bit of information, ask the student to write a headline that best describes him or her! This headline might be a quote, a familiar expression, or anything else. When students finish filling out the cards, give a little quiz. Then read aloud the headlines one at a time.
Ask students to write the name of the person they think each headline best describes. Who got the highest score? It seems as if parents are contacted only if there is a problem with students. At the end of each grading period, use the home address information to send a postcard to a handful of parents to inform them about how well their child is doing.
This might take a little time, but it is greatly appreciated! Pop Quiz Ahead of time, write a series of getting-to-know-you questions on slips of paper -- one question to a slip. You can repeat some of the questions. Then fold up the slips, and tuck each slip inside a different balloon. Blow up the balloons. Give each student a balloon, and let students take turns popping their balloons and answering the questions inside.
Contributor Unknown Fact or Fib? This is a good activity for determining your students' note-taking abilities. Tell students that you are going to share some information about yourself. They'll learn about some of your background, hobbies, and interests from the second oral "biography" that you will present. Suggest that students take notes; as you speak, they should record what they think are the most important facts you share. When you finish your presentation, tell students that you are going to tell five things about yourself.
Four of your statements should tell things that are true and that were part of your presentation; one of the five statements is a total fib.
This activity is most fun if some of the true facts are some of the most surprising things about you and if the "fib" sounds like something that could very well be true.
Tell students they may refer to their notes to tell which statement is the fib. Next, invite each student to create a biography and a list of five statements -- four facts and one fib -- about himself or herself. Then provide each student a chance to present the second oral biography and to test the others' note-taking abilities by presenting his or her own "fact or fib quiz. Mitzi Geffen Circular Fact or Fib?
Here's a variation on the previous activity: Organize students into two groups of equal size. One group forms a circle equally spaced around the perimeter of the classroom.
There will be quite a bit of space between students. The other group of students forms a circle inside the first circle; each student faces one of the students in the first group. Give the facing pairs of students two minutes to share their second oral "biographies. After each pair completes the activity, the students on the inside circle move clockwise to face the next student in the outer circle.
Students in the outer circle remain stationary throughout the activity. When all students have had an opportunity to share their biographies with one another, ask students to take turns each sharing facts and fibs with the class. The other students refer to their notes or try to recall which fact is really a fib. Contributor Unknown People Poems Have each child use the letters in his or her name to create an acrostic poem. Tell students they must include words that tell something about themselves -- for example, something they like to do or a personality or physical trait.
Invite students to share their poems with the class. This activity is a fun one that enables you to learn how your students view themselves. Allow older students to use a dictionary or thesaurus. You might also vary the number of words for each letter, according to the students' grade levels.
Bill Laubenberg Another Poetic Introduction. Ask students to use the form below to create poems that describe them. This activity lends itself to being done at the beginning of the school year and again at the end of the year. You and your students will have fun comparing their responses and seeing how the students and the responses have changed.
Contributor Unknown Food for Thought To get to know students and to help them get to know one another, have each student state his or her name and a favorite food that begins with the same first letter as the name. Watch out -- it gets tricky for the last person who has to recite all the names and foods! Here's a challenging activity that might help high school teachers learn about students' abilities to think critically.
Send students into the school hallways or schoolyard, and ask each to find something that "is completely the opposite of yourself. To widen the area to be explored, provide this activity as homework on the first night of school. When students bring their items back to class, ask each to describe why the item is not like him or her. You'll get a lot of flowers, of course, and students will describe how those flowers are fragrant or soft or otherwise unlike themselves.
But you might also get some clever responses, such as the one from a young man who brought in the flip-top from a discarded can; he talked about its decaying outward appearance and its inability to serve a purpose without being manipulated by some other force and how he was able to serve a purpose on his own.
Joy Ross Personal Boxes In this activity, each student selects a container of a reasonable size that represents some aspect of his or her personality or personal interests, such as a football helmet or a saucepan. Ask students to fill that object with other items that represent themselves -- for example, family photos, CDs, dirty socks, a ballet shoe -- and bring their containers back to school.
Students can use the objects in the containers as props for three-minute presentations about themselves. The teacher who provided this idea suggests that you model the activity and encourage creativity by going first -- it's important for students to see you as human too!
She included in her container a wooden spoon because she loves to cook, a jar of dirt because she loves to garden, her son's first cowboy boot, a poem she wrote, a rock from Italy because she loves to travel, and so on. You'll learn much about each student with this activity, and it will create a bond among students. As each student gives a presentation, you might write a brief thank-you note that mentions something specific about the presentation so that each student can take home a special note to share with parents.
It might take a few days to give every student the opportunity to share. Getting to Know One Another Volume 2: Who's in the Classroom? My Classmates and Me Volume 4: Activities for the First Day of School Volume Back-to-School Activities Volume 5: Be sure to see our tips for using Every-Day Edits in your classroom. See our idea file. Run out of Every-Day Edit activities for the month of September? Check out our Xtra activities for any time of year. This course is designed for all K educators looking for a fun and engaging way to help students take control of their own learning by using gamification.
It can be used for all subject areas at any level. This course is designed to teach you how to better engage learners by using gamification in their lessons. You'll discover how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations work, and how gamification can foster a growth mindset towards learning. Ultimately, you will learn how to use gamification as fun, non-threatening built-in assessment for any class content where students get to use choice and voice in their learning.
You will also get to view gamified lesson content samples that are already in use by teachers around the world. On completion of this course, learners will: Have explored how to use gamification as an assessment tool.
Understand how to maximize student engagement and foster a growth mindset culture. Gain the competence and confidence to create their own gamified activities, lessons, units, or even full-year themes. The transition to this new format, however, was not immediate. I knew I would have to plan carefully to execute it well and meet my students' needs.
In a graduate course I was taking, I had the chance to develop an extended version of the Berlin scenario, so I was able to face my class with a model for what I hoped they would do. To expedite the process, I provided students with a topic list including both traditional and contemporary events in history that I thought would excite their interest: By far the most popular topics from the list were Columbine and famous military battles.
Students also had the freedom to select their own topics if the topics fit the assignment's criteria. I was pleased with the unexpected and highly engaging topics they submitted: The students had equal success with both traditional historical topics and more contemporary historical events.
Allowing them the choice to veer away from topics with a more traditional place in historical research was essential to their engagement in the process and ultimately contributed to the success of their research and writing. I conjectured that a big part of students' success with this project would be determined by their choice of an appropriate narrator.
So with Larson's permission I used one of his worksheets to help kids select the point of view from which to tell the story and determine how that choice would ultimately influence the information that could and could not be included. The worksheet asked key questions: What is the narrator's age? Why is the person telling the story? What was he or she doing just before the event happened? How does the person feel about the event? And what has happened to the narrator since the event took place?
During my instruction, I also had students assist each other by brainstorming—both in small groups and as a class—potential narrators for each student's selected topic. It was exciting to listen as they discovered the possibilities.
The table below gives a small sampling of the ideas students generated during these sessions. Following Larson's lead, I required that students include a minimum number of facts in their story—I settled on twenty.
Further, I wanted students to realize that while their story was original, the information they used was not their own. So I had them include endnotes crediting the sources of their facts.
This not only taught them about documentation; it also made it much easier for me to monitor the number of facts they included. When I initially announced that we would begin our research project, the usual groans of despair filled the room. However, after I explained that I intended to try something different, the mood changed. I heard murmurs of "Sweet," "Cool," and "Awesome"; some students even clapped when they heard that they could be creative and still be involved in research.
In my nine years of teaching, that was a first! The engagement my students demonstrated with this assignment was evident in the quality of their stories. Even more revealing was the quality of the insights they shared in the required cover letter. The combination of researching and creating an original story was very appealing to them. I had successfully achieved one of my goals: Many shared Lawrence's perspective: Some shining examples of quality research resulted. Perhaps the best paper came from Aaron, who not only chose to write about the invasion of Normandy, but also took an unusual slant by using a German soldier as his narrator.
His account begins when a German soldier intercepts portions of a radio broadcast of what he believes to be a speech by General Eisenhower rallying his troops for the upcoming battle. The radio operator was saying "It sounds like they're planning an invasion.
They aren't serious, are they? Of anyone in the nd Division, he was by far the most confident about the strength of the Atlantic Wall and its designer, Oberbefehlshaber Rundstred. And that big barbwire mound. They'd have to get past that! And if they did, well, they'd still have to get past those trenches outside, then up 30 meters up the cliffs.
They don't stand a chance. At that moment there came the muffled sound of an explosion in the distance; Rudolf fell silent. It came again, and again, closer and closer. A second later, the entire bunker was shuttering under the impact of what had to be a bomb.
What was going on? We made our way into the bomb shelter on level ground. My entire battalion was down there. We waited for hours while the bombs continued dropping. Akaim managed to get a radio working; we received reports that this was happening all along the Wall.
It had to be about five in the morning before we noticed the barrage had stopped. We were so relieved. About a half an hour after we had resurfaced Rudolf gave a sudden intake of breath. He handed me the binoculars and directed me towards the horizon.
I dropped the specs over the side of the bunker out of shock. Aaron goes on to relate the eventual defeat of the German army. His narrative is loaded with facts that include the designer of the wall, the weaponry, the landscape, the German trench system along the beach, known as Widerstandnesters, and the time frame. One specific fact Aaron uncovered really sticks out to me as an example of "stuffing" his account with detail that was accurately researched.
He discovered that a pair of Ranger scouts disabled the artillery at Point du Hoc with thermite grenades that melted the mechanisms used to fire the guns, rendering them useless. As the narrator's situation deteriorates, this is how he relays this information:. The radio sounded off behind Akaim. As he checked it, his faced paled. It didn't matter, though. The guns are useless, and the scouts have disappeared.
Some students came upon intriguing and significant historical problems as they researched and developed their narratives. Zhiyun wrote about the Trail of Tears, the Indian removal that took place in the s. One problem she encountered was that many of the first-hand accounts she found were very biased.
As I started to research, I realized that most of the first-hand accounts came from an American point that was severely slanted against the Indians. I realized that there were very few accounts from white men sympathetic to the Indians. Thus, my narrator was born. He was to be a soldier directly involved in the removals but with a pro-Cherokee point of view.
Here the narrator, who is awaiting his own hanging, explains to the audience his reasons for killing two American soldiers in an attempt to save an Indian family from a savage beating:.
On our way there, I uncomfortably noticed the surrounding chaotic round-ups; screaming mothers begged troops to let them find their children while bayonets ruthlessly slashed and jabbed all unmercifully. That night I happened to encounter a pitiful Cherokee family of four being struck and prodded with bayonets by soldiers.
Around lunch time, Scott called for the troops to gather for an execution. An Indian attempted to escape with his family, but they were captured by pursuing troops; the Indian and his two sons were immediately sentenced to death. The nastiest surprise came when their fellow Cherokee were forcefully made to enlist in the firing squad. Some soldiers started to roar with laughter at this humiliation.
I, however, was too petrified to even move. Helplessly, I watched as the Indians were executed one by one to the wailing and lamenting of their friends and family. While the voice of the narrator is not as prominent in this example as in some of the other papers, the depth of research is clear. In addition to historical facts, Zhiyun found information that documented the human side of this tragedy. One of her sources described how an Indian was executed for trying to escape, and she used that incident as the catalyst that drove her narrator to a breaking point.
She also learned that the soldiers used bayonets if the Cherokee did not follow orders. While some papers, unlike these two, fell short of including significant facts, most students successfully developed a narrator for their written accounts.
Many commented that they had gone through a series of ideas for their narrator. As they considered the possibilities, they discovered that the facts they chose were dependent upon who their narrator was.
Relating history through a fictionalized account meant they had to analyze the information using unconventional methods. For example, twelve students wrote about Columbine. As I read each paper on this incident, I noted the information that each had included related directly to the student's choice of narrator.
Helen explains her process this way: This was especially evident when I read Lynn and Kate's papers. Lynn's narrator was near Mr. Sander's room so her focus was his murder.
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