First Days of School – A Collaborative Activity

I’m participating in Connected Educator Month where educators from the US (and beyond) are gathering online to share best practices, hear  wonderful keynote speakers and participate in online sessions both asynchronously and synchronously.  For many, this is a chance to check out what becoming a connected educator is all about and if that’s you, there is a great Starter Kit to help you on your way.    For me, it’s a way to make new learning connections and both share and receive practical ideas for teaching and learning.

One session, called The First Six Weeks, was a panel discussion kick-off, followed by a forum where folks are sharing their ideas about ways to make the first six weeks of school really sensational!   If you’d like to join in, you can hear the initial panel discussion recording here and participate in the forum now:

I shared an idea in the forum that I’ve used in the past and @snbeach, co-author of The Connected Educator, asked for a little example of how it works so I thought I’d share it here and include a graphic.   You might like to try it in your classroom, and I’d love to hear about  how it worked and how you tweaked it for class!

This activity gives students a chance to get to know each other and to find out what they have in common with some of their classmates.  It begins with students in a group of 3 and using a 3-circled venn diagram – one circle for each student.   They  record information about themselves and what they have in common with the other 2 in their group.   Students can share facts about themselves, their passions, their summer, their family etc., using sketches or words/phrases.  If 2 of the 3 like soccer, for example, they sketch a little picture or word about soccer in the section that overlaps their two circles.  If they have an interest or experience that is unique to their group, then they put that into their own circle, with no overlaps, and if something is common to all three it goes into the centre space – you get the idea!

It’s neat to see a visual representation of what they have in common and what is unique about them.  This also gives me a chance to see them interact to get a job done by talking together and asking lots of questions of each other –not to mention making observations about group dynamics.   I get to observe what modes students prefer when recording their ideas – text, images, phrases or a combination.  They also look great to display teamwork on the first day and to lay the foundation for that culture of collaboration and co-construction that is important in my classroom.

I’ve also done this on return from a school break – works well then too!  I’d love to hear your feedback on this idea – either how it worked for you, or what you would change!