Traditionally I would start my first day of class with my students by just saying my name and that I was excited to be their teacher and then immediately give them a fun STEM lab. I love my first day of school lab chaos because it builds a sense of community and collaboration with my students and also sets up my expectations from day 1. This activity also gets students excited to come back to class to see what's next! Unfortunately, with social distance guidelines and having to teach students both in physical and remote classrooms, all of my favorite first day of school lesson plans are no longer feasible. AHHH!!
So time to go back to the drawing board. Below are some of the ideas that I came up with that could be an option to help get my students to introduce themselves and still work collaboratively despite the restrictions. I am sure there are so many other brilliant ideas, but I hope this will help a little!
Design an All About Me Pinboard: Students can design and share their own pinboard highlighting things that they want their teacher and their classmates to know about. This is a great introduction activity since it will also start laying the foundation for students to work in their Digital Interactive Notebooks. You may have to spend time frontloading how to type, copy, and paste items into a presentation, but again, if you are planning on a DINB this will only help in the long run. You could always create a digital breakout room to have students share their pinboards with each other or share to the whole group in a Flipgrid!
Decorate your own virtual locker: This is similar to the Pinboard idea above, but students can decorate their own locker with stuff about themselves to share with their teacher and classmates. Again, you will have to do some frontloading and teach students how to add items to a presentation but this would be a beneficial skill to teach them early.
Collaborative About Me Banner - Have your students design their own about me pennant banner that you can use to decorate your classroom (or wall at home)! This is an activity that can also be easily printed and used for students that are in a physical classroom setting. Teacher access to a color printer would be nice for printing the digitally submitted pennants.
Collaborative About me Quilt - Have students design their own all about me square that you can use to make a large collaborative wall "quilt". This is also an activity that can be easily printed out and given to both physical classroom students as well as your remote learning students. Teacher access to a color printer would be nice for the digital quilt squares.
Make a Friend BINGO - Now this activity requires a bit more collaboration with students which may make it more challenging for you as the teacher. If you were using this in a physical classroom, I would do something similar to an inside-outside circle rotation that would be spaced out enough to allow for social distance. They have students switch up partners musical chairs style until someone finds a bingo and then share with the class. To do this remotely I am thinking of breaking students up into small breakout rooms, repeating this 2-4 times, and then sharing answers as a whole group so that everybody would get a chance to talk or share. The page is easily printable and customizable for both you and your students.
All about me poster - This is a classic first week of school assignment. You can print it out and use it with your physical classroom students as well as use in a digital format.
Here is a list of other ideas that could be used on the first day of school
About my teacher Escape Room - Design a slide that has clues about you hidden in it and then use it as a picture and basis for your students to solve escape room clues.
Flidgrid Show and Tell or an All about me interview: Set up a Flipgrid for students to share stories from their lives with their classmates. Monitor these and set clear guidelines and expectations.
2 truths and a lie: Have students in a physical classroom or in a digital environment share 2 truths about themselves and 1 lie and have their classmates guess. Start modeling this with your own 2 truths and a lie statement.
Would you rather: Create a series of would you rather questions to start students having fun conversations with each other. If I was in a virtual environment for this I would try to create smaller breakout rooms to promote further collaboration and gives all students a time to be heard.
Give students a virtual tour of your classroom or virtual Bitmoji classroom!
Again, these are just the ideas I could come up with and throw out there! I hope you can either use them or they inspired you to come up with an awesome new first day of school activity with your students! Please share this post with others and if you have a fun idea please share in the comments below or on my Facebook page @mrswatsoneducation! Remember we are all better if we help each other out! Happy planning and collaboration!!