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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Name Maps

Ah, it's time for the first blog of the new school year. I have been anxious to get started and share the wonderful things my new group of students is doing. 

After reading Teach Like a Pirate, I decided to put more focus on building relationships the first few days than I normally do. This is not an area of weakness for me. I have always been good at getting to know my students well. By putting more into it early on, I hoped to show the students that they matter the most to me. 
I did some online research (Is there really any other kind anymore?) and chose an activity called My Name Map and Me. Because I am a busybody in my building, I already know many of the eighth graders in my classroom from their time in seventh grade. Others are completely unknown to me. When looking at the name map, I realized that I could quickly learn a great deal about the unknowns in a very short period of time. So I prepared my version of the activity and presented it to my students, letting them know that I cheated by using clip art rather than drawing my own. Teacher privilege!

This activity took us about half of two different class days. Initially, many students were stuck. I prompted them, resulting in a number of cell phones as main symbols (It is what it is, I suppose). As they drew, I walked around and talked to the kids about what they were putting on their papers, getting even more details about their lives. I have a classroom full of singers and artists and...wait for it...readers! I have students who actually enjoy reading. 

Tomorrow is our Meet the Teacher Night. When the parents arrive, they will be able to see what their children have already created, and I will be able to show off that I have spent time getting to know my new group. It was not a consideration when I planned the lesson, but I will bask in the added benefits.