Back To School Ideas For Secondary Teachers

It seems as though we just finished school for the summer and now we are beginning a new year. Of course, I have missed my kiddos and to a point I am excited to start back. I really enjoyed my summer home. This first week back has been super busy with new teachers, new classes, and new tasks to complete. I am now the student council adviser! Which is exciting but also a little overwhelming. My goal is to stay organized and on top of grade! (like all teachers)
One thing I noticed this summer is that there is very little information out there for secondary classes. To be more particular there seems to be hardly any helpful websites or ideas for history teachers. I am a teacher who attempts to counter the belief that History is boring and not relatable. So here are some assignments that are in my lesson plans for the first couple of days.

Summer is over
Summer is over

1. Starburst Summer 
I have forgotten where I got this idea from. I give my students treats (my school allows us to feed our kids. You may have to check with your school if you are allowed to give students candy/food.) I try to find a candy that is individually wrapped and has several different colors. Since I live in Korea, I also try and get a candy that my students may not be exposed to here in Korea. This year I decided to get Starburst candies because they matched most of the criteria. I then create a powerpoint that shows every possible color with a question. I usually have one common requirement (like every color has to say their name).

2015-08-11 13_Fotor
2. Goal Index Cards
This idea came from watching a movie on the plane ride over to Korea. In the movie (I was delirious and I am not sure what the movie was) students wrote their goals down and then would share their goals with their class. I have of course changed things up a bit. I am doing a monthly goal activity. At the end of the month the students will be given a peers random index card and read it out loud. We will then discuss the goal (rather they accomplished their goal or not, the struggles they faced ect.). Be sure that you warn the students that their goals will be read by others.

3. APP Activities
I kinda love checking out different and weird apps that have recently launched. I seems to get some great game ideas to use in the classroom. One game that I discovered this summer, was the 7 second challenge. Apparently this is a very popular app on Youtube. I decided to change the app to fit my classroom needs. Instead of doing random things, I will created history related challenges. For example, name 4 states that start with the letter A. They will then only have 7 seconds to complete the challenge. The app itself is a ton of fun but I wanted to be sure that I could assess my students without them knowing that I was assessing them. It is a little more fun then just asking questions.

4. Scavenger Hunt 
This idea is great but kind of difficult for me at my current school. I got this idea from a professor way back when, in college. You create a list of things that every student needs to find in the classroom. For example, a person who has blue shoes on. This is hard at my school because we have uniforms and as I have discussed in previous posts, Korea has a very homogeneous society. Also the class sizes at my current school are small, which makes it hard to discover a person who has what you are looking for.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 11_Fotor_Fotor
5. Expectations 
For this activity, I give my students a sticky note (remember I am addicted to those things). I then ask my students to write two things they want or expect from the class. I refuse to allow my students to stay things like “I expect to learn history”. I call those the “duh” answers. I also tell my students to try and impress me. This activity allows students to feel some ownership in the learning. It gives me ideas. Not t mention, it allows me to see not only their writing/creativity level but also their background knowledge of the subject. Which considering I am teaching none US citizens it gives me a huge insight into their levels.

Overall, the five activities are meant to get my students talking, expressing themselves and for me to listen and assess their knowledge. It is amazing how much information I get from these five elements. My students do not realize that these activities actually provide me with so much information about themselves. They simply think they are first day activities. I usually try and remember one or two things about every student, like a goal they said, and then I ask them about it through the week. This usually shocks them and makes them feel like they are seen and heard. Which is important for our history classes.

Hope this gives you some fun ideas. Feel free to use these activities for yourselves and make them yours! If you know a teacher go ahead and share this blog with them!

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