Relationships are so very important. If you want to connect with your students, you need to know your students and they need to know you and each other. I try to build a climate and culture in my classroom of family. I want it to be a safe space to learn, fail, share, and grow. Students will never feel comfortable doing this if they don’t know each other.
Here are a few activities I’ve done to help us get to know one another and create that family climate.
Google Form Survey
This document does more than gather information. I play a game at the of class periods that run a little short. See, if my students get done early, they pack up and migrate toward the door. This is problematic because so many students clustered around the door causes issues (and our administration has made it an expectation to NOT line up at the door). I will open the spreadsheet from this form and play guess who. Now let’s use some common sense here! I do ask students some personal information like internet access and food allergies. DO NOT USE THIS INFORMATION for guess who. I know you won’t but I’m putting it out there JUST in case. Students love to play this game and they get to know each other a little as we go. It also keeps them in their seat and engaged until the bell rings. This Google Form idea came from Jennifer Gonzalez. I found it in this blog post with many other great ideas including ice breakers. The guess who game idea came from a retired administrator I had during my specialist classes.
I have been using this slide activity for quite a few years now. I like it because we learn about each other the very first day but I can also teach students how to use Google Slides, a tool we use OFTEN in my class. I assign it through Google Classroom and every student has access to the SAME document. This means you need to make a copy for each class. I forgot once and had to make a copy of the completed activity and delete the slides the students had added. Not a complete disaster but wasted time. I post this activity at the TOP of Google Classroom so students can access it any time. I also make sure any new students who join us later in the year complete it (same with the Google Form).
A NEW Collaborative Slide
This is a NEW collaborative slide idea I saw on Twitter. Pamela Bradley (@4pambradley) shared on behalf of Lauren Vining. I LOVED IT, and not just because it had a Bitmoji (I give other options BTW). I wanted the lockers to be a little bigger and I wasn’t sure about the copyright of the locker image used so I made my own version in Google Slides. I plan to have the students use this activity just like I did the previous one. I will also get to introduce remove.bg and unscreen.com to remove the background from images and animated gifs. This way they can add a picture of themself if they want.
All of these activities (except or guess who, and maybe even that one via Meet or Zoom) could be used for virtual learning too.
Now, go build those relationships!