Summer is rapidly coming to an end and I have had to start preparing myself for meeting the new faces that will enter my classroom this year. It’s a new year with a new set of adventures, challenges, and learning.
Each year I face the challenge of wanting to engage with my students from day one. Unfortunately, as a middle school 8th grade math teacher, I do not have many students that walk in loving math, loving school, or even the desire to try and like their teacher on day one. I have to build report with them and gain their trust. For me day one needs to be a mixture of rules and procedures, but also a time to show them that math class is going to be a fun safe place to grow and learn together.
Every year one of my goals for the first day of school is to help my students to put aside their insecurities about math and take a fresh approach on learning. I have been searching Pinterest, Facebook, and Teachers Pay Teachers for the right resource to use with my students. This Growth Mindset bundle, by TeamTom Education, can be used in a variety of ways in many different settings. In my math class, I plan to use the video portion of the bundle to help my students understand that no matter what their mathematical background may have been in the past, looking forward we are going to “Grow our Math” skills together. I’m very excited about this resource and look forward to using it very soon.
Ice Breakers for Day 1
I want my students to participate openly in my class from the first day. I try to create an environment that is respectful and safe. Here are a few resources that I use each year to break the ice with my middle school students.
Use Your Noodle
Divide the room into two groups. Pick one student from each team to be the team captain. The team captains are given a marble. No one is allowed to touch the marble except the team captain. Give all of the other students a piece of a pool noodle. Place a plastic cup for each team somewhere in the room. NO ONE CAN TALK! The marble must go through each person on the teams noodle and into their team’s cup. If the marble falls out, the team captain must get it and start over. The first team to get their marble in the cup wins.
There are many ways the students can do this. I have seen them try to stand close together and make a diagonal line down to the cup and roll it in, or stack their noodles one on top of the other over the cup and drop it in. In college, we had a team where the captain put the marble through each persons noodle and then went and put it in the cup. Any approach they use is right. I use this to model that there are many ways in math to approach a problem, as well as showing them what cooperative learning looks like in my class. We work better together!
I found this Student-Led Classroom Team Building activity on Pinterest last year and my students loved it. I was amazed how they all worked together to complete the task, and how quickly some of the groups figured it out.
I hope you find some of these resources useful. Please comment and share below.