On days 1-3, you don’t want to just introduce rules; you want to co-create class norms! It isn’t only communicating what can’t be done, but articulating what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like when things ARE done right. See the spaces underneath “We thrive on peace and positivity…” in the norms sheet above for a visual depiction of making room for students to describe what it looks/sounds/feels like to them.
You will also want to find a way for you, as the teacher, and students, with each other, to learn more about the community members with whom they’re learning. That is why you will find two versions of a “day one” survey from my archives, below, as well as a scavenger hunt exercise I created to help students use the survey as a starting point for meeting each other. HINT: the survey will come back up, as it is also a great tool for documenting student interests that students and teachers can return to later, and it will become another tool for those trying to meet STEM-related goals.
Otherwise, there are all kinds of great ice breakers and team-building games available on the internet, and in the next set of lessons, I’ll provide another one from my archives. Here, though, below the scavenger hunt, you will find tools you can use to start inviting students to identify and share multimedia content that reflects their interests or strengths, as well as a tool or “graphic organizer” template you can use to introduce a new lesson or topic in a way that gets students using prior exposure and knowledge to brainstorm what they already know about it.
What’s a great way to make sure a brainstorm isn’t just a page in a journal or bullet points in an unnamed document? A poem, paragraph, or reflection of sort. The final worksheet included in this Session 1-3 post is a graphic organizer meant to illustrate how to turn a brainstorm, based on questions composed by student or teacher, into a written product.
ELA Hint: Once students finish taking the survey, ask them to choose one of the questions they answered, and ask them to write a five-sentence paragraph on the topic. Assess for how much scaffolding students individually, and the class collectively, needs (“one sentence can be a general statement about crime shows, one sentence can name your favorite show and summarize what it is about…” vs nothing needing to be said at all) to get an idea of how much writing instruction and support students will need.
STEM Hint: Part of the scientific method is about creating a hypothesis, collecting and analyzing evidence, creating systems for ensuring replicability in the way data is collected, and creating a conclusion that confirms a hypothesis or makes way for new facts. Asking a student to describe a characteristic about a musician’s lyrics or visual presentation, then arming said student with the video analysis tool to collect and analyze evidence supporting (or detracting from) their original position by comparing 3 or more videos is a way to demonstrate the scientific process without labs or scalpels.
Art Hint: Combine the ELA suggestion above, and couple it with collaging! Once a student has written their paragraph, provide a stack of magazines, scissors, glue, and paper or a poster board, and ask them to create a visual representation of the paragraph they’ve written about themselves and their interests. After they’ve cut, placed and glued all of the visual parts, ask them to choose a sentence from their paragraph as the final touch and cut-out on the collage. In an artistic product made by compiling other peoples’ work, a student – and instructor – can walk away knowing something entirely original is also part of the canvas.
SCL Hint: Ask students to create a survey of their own to distribute among the students in your class, school or wider community. This could be done as a follow up activity to them taking and analyzing the teacher-created survey, or it could be something offered later. If students like the day one survey you distributed, or if students want to compare data you collected previously with their own generation, starting with the teacher-created tool works. However, encouraging students to consider data points that matter to them is a way to build additional metacognitive and critical thinking skills into the exercise.