Monday, July 17, 2017

Back-to-School Activities with Rigor

I read a lot of articles, websites, blogs (probably too many if there is such a thing :). I know the focus for a lot of people the first week of school is on classroom management and routines. Of course, I know that's a big part of what we do in the beginning, especially with the little ones, many of whom have not been in school before. However, I also think it's important to see what they can do and where they are academically which includes levels of creativity and critical thinking. Not to mention my major goal the first week of school is to get them excited about coming back the 2nd week!

So here are a few ideas:

1) Invent a new school supply. We list all the different kinds of school supplies and what their purpose is. Then we make a list of needs for our class. For example, wouldn't it be great if we could erase crayon when they make mistakes?

2) New uses for everyday things-you can use a pencil or a paper clip. Model for the students using an object-what else could we use this for. This is my all-time favorite answer to this question. He turned the paper clip into a hanger for ant clothes!

3) Multiple perspectives-if I were a principal. I love to read the book Fine, Fine School about a principal who goes a little overboard with his enthusiasm for learning, then the students write what they would do if they were the principal. It's our first attempt to put ourselves in another's shoes.

4. Schools Over Time-I love showing students what schools and school supplies looked like in the 1800's. So we write what it's like in the past, compare to today and then they design a school of the future. This could also be a first maker activity or project-they could build their schools.

5. Creative self-portraits-one of our art objectives is using a different medium to create. I think it takes creativity to use different things to make art. We use food! Snacks are of course, the highlight of my students' day. The poor babies eat lunch at 10:30 and our day goes until 3:15--so they get hungry. We do a number of different self-portraits including an edible one. I just put out the materials and see where they go with it.

Don't be afraid to set the bar for your year and start off with some rigorous activities. Not only will it give you an opportunity to assess and see what your students are already capable of, but it steps things up for their learning from Day One.

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  1. You always do an amazing job of pushing your students to think creatively and deeply!