Creative Thinking, K-12, Student Products

Me — The User Manual, 2022 Edition

I’m starting a Wakelet collection of ideas for beginning the school year (stay tuned for that to be shared next week!) and one of my favorites is this activity, “Me — The User Manual, that I did way back in 2017. It was originally inspired by a tweet from Adam Grant, famous author of many books including one that I highly recommend for teachers, Think Again. In the tweet, Grant referred to an article by Abby Falik where she described writing her own “user manual” that she wrote as a leader. You can read more about it in my original post.

Back then, I created my own User Manual, and suggested it as something teachers could do to share with their students and/or colleagues. I also think it would be a unique activity to have your students do when the school year starts as you are trying to get to know each other and develop relationships.

I’ve updated my own User Manual, and I’ve created a link to the template in Canva so you can use it if you wish with your students. Of course, deviating from the template is highly encouraged as employing your own creativity to this product is a large part of its power. As you can see from my graphic, I highly value creativity!

You can adapt this idea to any age and digital creativity tool, even drawing it by hand if you prefer. The purpose is to build community in a safe way while encouraging creativity. Your students will appreciate getting to know you better, and this can be your first signal to them that you truly care about each individual in your classroom.

Click here to access this template in Canva.

Education, K-12, Teaching Tools

What You Missed This Summer – BOY Ideas

I know that my readership takes a dip June-August each year as many educators go on vacations or take breaks during those months.  Although I did not post as regularly as I meant to this summer, I did share some resources that I believe are worth repeating in case you missed them.  I am going to spend this week spotlighting some of those.

Here are some ideas I mentioned this summer that can help you and your students to get to know each other so you can develop great relationships at the Beginning Of the Year.

Chat Pack for Kids – Great icebreaker, attendance, and transition time questions that kids love to ponder!

#Awards – I used this idea, originally from Joelle Trayers, at the end of last school year, but it could also be an illuminating activity for the first week of school.

MyRebus – You and your students could create rebuses of two lies and a truth, a simple sentence about their summer, etc…  Also fun to create codes for BreakoutEdu.

Me – The User Manual – If you could give someone a set of instructions for interacting with you, what would you say?  This idea is a fun way to summarize what people need to know about you.

Week of Inspirational Math #3 – Kick off your school year by developing positive mathematical mindsets with these activities for K-12.

DreamBingo – Help middle and high school students develop specific goals to work toward this year as they learn about the “life skills” that are required for successful careers.

Did you already start your school year?  That doesn’t mean you can’t use any of these! Developing and maintaining relationships should happen throughout the term, not just at the beginning.

image from Pixabay

Education, Games, K-12, Math, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Websites

Back to School Games from Breakout Edu

In this Education Week article, “10 Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School,” by Nancy Flanagan, she gives the following advice:

“Don’t make Day One “rules” day. Your classroom procedures are very important, a hinge for functioning productively, establishing the relationships and trust necessary for individual engagement and group discussions. Introduce these strategies and systems on days when it’s likely your students will remember them and get a chance to practice them. This is especially important for secondary teachers, whose students will likely experience a mind-numbing, forgettable parade of Teacher Rules on Day One.”

It’s often considered good practice to establish rules and procedures at the beginning of a new school year, but I can definitely attest that my daughter came home from each first week during her middle school years feeling bored and defeated.  Not only did the teacher of each subject spend the entire period going over rules, but many of them showed the same not-so-exciting videos, which repetitively appeared in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. (Fortunately, each year improved dramatically after the first weeks, as her fabulous teachers definitely challenged and engaged her.)

As a teacher of 25 years, I’ve gone through many first days, and I can tell you that I am just as enthusiastic as the students when my staff development weeks begin with rules, procedures, and awkward team-building activities.

Nancy Flanagan goes on in her article to suggest doing engaging activities the first day that will also help the students to learn something.  If you are looking for ideas, Breakout Edu offers some Back to School games that might be just the ticket to ramp up excitement so your students go home the first day and tell their parents what they learned and that they had fun doing it!  There is one game each for elementary, upper elementary, and secondary. There is even one for Staff Development! (Note: You will need to register for free with Breakout Edu in order to get the password to access the games.)

Consider embedding rules and procedures into exciting learning activities, rather than making them the starring topic for introducing the year.  Your students – and their parents – will thank you!

from Breakout Edu Back to School Games
from Breakout Edu Back to School Games