Classbuilding, Teambuilding, and Classroom Procedures are essential to both the teachers and students success in every classroom. So don’t skimp on it now. Perhaps just as important as the first days of school, helping students ease back in after a Winter Break is time well spent. After all you are heading into assessment season and still have more than half the year left. And, if you are feeling like you were struggling with classroom management already, then you have an opportunity for a fresh start to make this half stronger.
Here is what you need to know. It is likely that your students have stayed up late, slept in for extended periods and had a lot of unstructured time. So you are going to have to realize this and plan ahead. Many of your students may not have seen each other for awhile and are going to be super chatty. And if you already had a chatty class, it could be worse. So a little preparation will go a long way.
First, review your routines and procedures you have in place and need to refresh with your class. If you know you need to change something, here is your chance. Plan to have an activity or series of activities over the next few days to reteach or reinforce your classroom expectations and routines. But, since it is likely review you can make this more fun than a sit and get review. Instead take this as an opportunity to add Classbuilders and Teambuilders.
A class builder is a whole class activity that gets kids up and moving and interacting. So if you plan it just right, you can embed student interaction that is fun with a review of your classroom routines. This allows appropriate ways for students to “chat” as part of the learning process. Some simple ways to do this are:
- Four Corners
- Find Someone Who
- Inside Outside Circle
If you don’t know any of these cooperative learning structures there is a short table description at the bottom of this post.
A teambuilder is a small group activity that helps build student teams working together. In a teambuilder students learn about each other, build a team identity, build mutual support, value each others differences and develop synergy (Kagan 1997). Again you can embed some routines and procedures here too. And if you had been struggling with your students working together collaboratively, you can begin this process now. Some examples of Teambuilding activities are:
- Find the Fib
- Round Robin
Again your can reference the table below if you have never used any of these Teambuilding structures. You can also refer to my blog post: How to Turn Working in Groups into TEAMS!
If you are an elementary teacher then you can scatter these activities throughout your day. But if you are a secondary teacher, like me, you will have to plan for these for each class. If you have never invested in these types of activities you have been missing out on one of the most essential relationship building opportunities. Time invested in these are critical to the human component of teaching. And this is not an every once in awhile activity, rather should this become a weekly to biweekly thing. Yes, time is passing, but you will have more with student learning if these become part of your regular schedule each week.
So, now you are ready!! Decide on one classbuilder and teambuilder you want to integrate the first days back from winter break. And I have already put together a FREE Classbuilder activity for you. Just simply click: Back from Winter Break: Find Someone Who and download it. You can simply just print and use or take the template and create your own custom Find Someone Who.
Looking to either strengthen your Teambuilders or just beginning to add teambuilders into your classroom, then get started with with this simple activity that you can make ahead of time or have your students do all the work for you. That’s right, your students can help you. Find the Fib, is something they love. It is basically 2 truths and a lie. You can have students come up with on their own by just giving them a piece of scrap paper and have them write 2 true things and one lie from winter break or you can give them some categories one at a time to do with their group. Here are some examples of categories:
- Places they went over winter break
- The funniest thing that happened over winter break
- The worst thing that happened over winter break
- Things you should do as a team working together
So now, look over your routines and design or use some of the examples here. So what are you waiting for, you get to have fun and reteach necessary skills for your classroom to run smoothly and chattiness is welcome!
Teacher announces Corner topic with each corner labeled 1,2,3,4. Students think and write their choice and move to the corner, Student pairs discuss topic. (Best pet: Dog, Cat, Reptile, Bird OR What are two ways we can show each other kindness?)
Find Someone Who
Generate a Tic Tac Toe board for any topic (fun or academic). Students mix with others in class and question partners from board, reverse roles
Inside Outside Circle
Numbers students off by 1,2. Then have 1’s make a circle. Then have 2’s make a circle around them and face each other. Either give cards to one of the circles or announce topic. Partners aligned discuss topic. Then call move two left or how you want to rotate and students repeat process with cards or your category you read aloud.
Teacher assign roles to each person in the group, the teacher announces the prompt and students take turns generating ideas. (What would you do with $100? OR Why do we take turns talking?)
Find the Fib
Students write 3 statements (1,2,3) and read to their teammates. Teammates discuss statements and then hold finger 1,2,3 for their guess and then find out if they are correct.
Teacher announces topic to discuss. Each student take turns to discuss. (When can you get out of your seat? OR What mammals live in the desert?)