Getting to Know Your Students

August 18, 2007 at 5:38 pm (all, blogging, children, classroom management, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, Middle School, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke)

Welcome back!  Obviously one of the most important things that you can do during the first week of school is to learn your students’ names and to get to know some things about them.  Here are some ideas from the National Education Association to make this task easier.

What’s In A Name

Student Information Cards

“I keep an information card on all of my students. I pre-print index cards on the computer requesting each students name, date of birth, address, home number, parents’ work and cell phone numbers, the book numbers that they were issued and their email address. I punch all the cards and bind them with a ring. I keep them in my book bag so their information is available to me at school and at home. I just recently thought of pre-printing the information requests on the computer instead of having the kids do all the writing.”


Personalized Nametags

“The first day of school I give my students a plain nametag with their name printed on it in black marker. I ask them to decorate the nametag with things that tell about themselves. It’s interesting to see what they add to their tags. Students can find someone who shares the same interests. They can also take surveys with the nametag information and graph their findings.”


Learning About Each Other

“On the first day of school, I want to learn the children’s names. At the first student’s desk, I extend my hand, introduce myself and tell the class one of my favorite activities, sports, games, etc. The student must then tell me his/her name and an interesting personal fact. I then go on the next student and introduce myself again but give a new statement about myself. I repeat the statement and then go back and repeat the first student’s name and statement. I continue this practice until I have learned all the student’s names. By the end of the first day, they know everything about their teacher and all of us know something about each other.”


Student Information Cards

“On the first day of school, I give my students an index card to fill out while I’m making a seating chart. I ask each student to write down their name, home address, phone number, the languages they speak and their interests. Then, I put them into their assigned seats and have them add their row and seat number to the card. With this information, I can already start to call them by name. Later, I use the cards to call on the students randomly. They know that when I get the cards out, they need to be prepared. If a student doesn’t know an answer, I turn their card over in the pile and make sure that I get back to them shortly.”


How to Learn 150 Names in a Week

“I photocopy my seating charts onto transparencies and put colored paper behind them. I use a different colored paper for each class. The charts are magnetized and I leave them up on the blackboard all year for the students to see. I write their names on post-it notes and place them on the charts so that I can easily change them if their assigned seats don’t work out. I make a copy of the seating chart and staple it to a matching colored folder so that the names of the students are facing me. I use this to take roll and call each student by name from the very first day. This system allows me to learn up to 150 names in a week!”


Name Anagrams

“At the beginning of the year I have my eighth grade science students write an anagram of their name. This helps me get to know them and they seem to enjoy working on this idea of who they are.”


Getting To Know You

Special Students

“I have a tip to help students see just how special everyone truly is on the inside and out. Have every student decorate the outside of a small brown paper sack with the things they love, hobbies, etc. Then, ask the students to place a clue inside the bag about something no one in the class would know by looking at them. After everyone is finished, the students go around the room and try to guess whose bags they are. After the students have tried to guess, everyone gets a chance to explain their bag to the class. Students are able to see what they have in common with their classmates. This is a good icebreaker for the beginning of the school year.”


Animal Introductions

“On the first day of school, I pass out animal stickers to the students. I make sure that the stickers are given out in pairs so that they can be matched. The students need to find the other person in the room that has the matching sticker. The two students exchange introductions and two things that the other enjoys. They introduce each other to the class and explain what they learned. This process allows me to find out the students’ interests and quickly breaks the ice in the classroom. Students also have to apply their oral language skills from the onset of school.”


Two Ways to Know Each Other

“I use two different ideas to start off the year. One is to have the students look around the room until they make eye contact with someone they barely know. Each pair sit together and talk for a timed two minutes. When the time is up, the students introduce their partners to the class. We all learn about each other and I learn about each student’s memory and ability to share with the group. The second idea I use is to have each student pull a strip from a roll of toilet paper. They count the squares and have to tell the class one thing about themselves for each square they have. The toilet paper creates giggles which makes the students relaxed when it’s their turn to speak.”


Scientific Inquiries

“At the beginning of the school year I do a science experiment called, ‘Who is Ms. Locke?’ After a review of the scientific process, I tell the students they have to go around the room to see how much they can find out about me. I set up stations with clues about my previous jobs, my hobbies and my interests. I set it up so they have to take notes on what they find out and allow them to work in teams so they can bounce ideas off each other. They aren’t allowed to ask me questions directly. My students love being detectives!”


Getting to Know You

“At the beginning of the school year I feel it is important to let the students know about me and to find out about them. I draw or find pictures to make a collage of things I am interested in or things that are important to me. Students have to try to discover through the picture as many things about me as they can. Then I ask them to make a collage about themselves. No words can be used. Only pictures. It is an interesting way for us to get to know each other and often I find out important and interesting things about the children.”


Getting Acquainted

“At the beginning of the year I have each student write down at least two things about themselves that others may not know. I then put one thing each has written into a grid and give a copy of the grid to everyone in the class. I ask the students to find the person who wrote each characteristic or experience and have that person sign their box. I’m sure to model how to discover the owners of the ideas by asking a question. ‘Are you the person who owns the iguana?’ or ‘ Are you the person who puts ketchup on peanut butter sandwiches?’ This avoids the mass signature approach, demonstrates a way to begin a conversation, and provides a good way for the students to get acquainted in an active and positive way.”


Birthday Cards

“I have my students get to know each other by making birthday cards. They sit in groups and design a card for the person across from them. They have to find out what hobbies that person enjoys, books they like to read, places they have been and design a cover for a birthday card accordingly. The card must have the student’s name, a greeting and their date of birth. I keep the stack by the classroom calendar and post the birthdates. When someone’s birthday comes up, the card gets passed around the room for everyone to sign. I give it to the birthday student on their special day along with a birthday pencil. We make up a half birthday for those who were born during the summer. The students who do not celebrate birthdays receive a greeting card during a month when there are no birthdays. This makes handling birthdays much simpler. The kids love to read their cards and know that they are celebrated and appreciated.”


Me In A Bag

At the beginning of the year, I introduce myself using ‘Me In A Bag’. I put a few items that represent me in a large paper sack. In my sack, I put a paintbrush because I’m an artist, my favorite book, my favorite food, pictures of my family and my pets, my favorite CD and a cookbook. The children sit around me and I explain the significance of each item as I pull it out of the bag. This helps the kids get to know me as a person. Each child has a turn to bring in his/her own ‘Me In A Bag’. This gives everyone in the class a chance to shine.�


The Sky’s the Limit

“As an introductory activity, I have my students create their own ceiling posters. On their poster, they draw whatever says something about themselves. They include personal photos, cutouts from magazines and anything that reflects who they are. Each student introduces their poster about themselves to their fellow classmates. I make a big deal out of taping their posters to the ceiling tiles in the classroom. To sweeten the pot, I take digital photos of each student and give him or her a copy to incorporate into their poster. I also use the digital photos as screensavers for my class computer and use them as flashcards to help me to learn their names faster. The ceiling posters make a very colorful room with a lot of interest and creativity.”


Personalized Plates

“The first assignment I give is to have my students describe themselves in eight or less letters and/or numbers. I give them a license plate template and tell them that they need to create a personal plate that best describes an important aspect of their character. They decorate their plates and explain why their choice of letters or numbers fits them. I post the plates around the room so they get to see what their classmates say about themselves. The license plates are always a big hit at parent open house.”


Greeting with a Smile

“As I personally greet each student at the classroom door, I tell students I am happy to see them and place a small smiley face sticker on them, indicating that they are my students. I found this little greeting and recognition helps break the ice the first day of school. I also have requests for stickers from former students as they pass my door. Perhaps I have started a tradition among my students. This opening day gesture costs less than a dollar and is a good investment for me and my students.”


Can We Talk?

“A great first-day assignment I use with my students is to have them interview each other. After I start class with a mini-lesson on asking questions and follow-up questions, I have them line up by birthday without talking, only communicating by hand signals. After they line up, I divide the line in two and have them pair up with a person across from them. This way I avoid friends interviewing friends. They interview their partner and take notes. The next day I ask each student to bring in a picture and have the students introduce each other by reading the interview and posting it and the picture on the bulletin board.”


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

“I take a picture of each student next to a measuring tape at the beginning of the year. I get double prints and mount one set. These pictures are used next to anything that is hung up on the bulletin board. That way parents and kids can identify their work quickly. I take another set of pictures just before open house and numerous pictures through the year. I purchase blank books for each child and they work on a yearbook. By June their memories as well as 15-20 pictures are theirs. You can really see the improvement in their writing as the year progresses. It’s amazing to see how much the kids have changed over the year, particularly in fifth grade.”


Time Capsule

“I begin the school year by doing time capsules with my students. They include their height, a handwriting sample, a math timed-test (multiplication facts) some predictions (both individual and class) as well as resolutions. I use oatmeal boxes or Pringles canisters for the capsules. We wrap them in wrapping paper, to seal them, them put them all into a large, taped box, kept in plain sight. We open it on the last day of school. It has been great fun.”


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