By Teachers, For Teachers
The first day of school can be daunting. Students are curious about the new faces around them, intimidated—even frightened—by the prospect of so many strangers.
As a teacher, you might feel the same way. You knew everything about last year's students, got excited when their baseball team won the playoffs, cried with them when a favorite pet passed away, cheered when they got an A in math. Those details—that intimate knowledge—helped you understand what motivated them so you could successfully differentiate instruction to meet each of them where they were.
Now, you're starting over. On the first day of school it would be easy to go around the room and have everyone introduce one another, but you want the first-day icebreakers to be more enriching and fun to set the tone for the rest of the year. You want students to quickly get comfortable with each other and bond as a group, without turning the classroom into a party room. And, you want an activity they haven't done in their other classes.
One truth never changes: Students love talking about themselves. There's no better icebreaker than one where students share something that matters to them. It’s also a great way for kids to discover commonalities amongst each other without having to have a direct conversation.
Another truth: Kids love technology. This year, try a get-to-know-you activity that uses free online tools. How about these ideas:
For the picture-intensive projects above, older students can access their Flickr or Facebook accounts while youngsters use pictures from Google Images. Use this opportunity to teach or review safe search skills.
Once the projects are done, upload or embed them to the class website or student blogs to share with others. Give the students class time to add comments and/or field questions to their new classmates. Not only is this a great ice breaker for the first day of class, it's also a fun introduction to web-based tools students will enjoy incorporating into projects throughout the school year.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB.