Apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, who's not ready holler I. Even though we are never really "ready" starting the school year, in a healthy way, is easier than multiplying by five. Speaking of five here are five ways you can make your school more fun than a childhood game of hide and seek.
Jump Your Bike:
Do you remember jumping your bike off of the curb? Do you remember building a jump with a board and some bricks. Taking risks is a key component of a healthy childhood and a healthy classroom. It is important to remember that when you stop being scared of what is happening at the beginning of the year, you are playing it too safe. This year I fully embraced my fear and used it to create an opening activity for my students to learn how to face their own fears. Even if you are delivering professional development, you must embrace your fear. My good friend Chris Long says that "if you are sure of how everything will go, you didn't stack those bricks high enough."
The fun part of playing I Spy was that the participant got to ask all the questions. Instead of teachers giving lists or study guides full of questions, turn the table. Use a question focus as that "I spy with my eyes" object and have the students use a strategy like the Question Formulation Technique to create their own essential questions to the topic that you are sharing with the class.
When students are in charge of asking their own questions, engagement and a feeling of connection with the topic go way up.
Let's Play House:
Every house, every class, should have places to play. Notice I said a place to play, not a certain item to play with. Stop worrying if you have the right chairs, tables, markers, whiteboards, tablets etc... creativity doesn't require freedom, it craves constraint. In my childhood home in Huntington Beach we had two drawers filled with old clothes and hats. We never complained about what clothes were in the drawers, we just mixed and matched and finally dressed my brother in my mother's old dress. We had so much fun we almost choked on our laughter. Create spaces to play, but don't worry about the items in those spaces.
Let Your Students Build A Cootie Catcher (Paper Fortune Teller)
My students couldn't wait to show this to me after class.
I love videos. I love videos that show students being alone can be a good thing. I love videos that share how life itself is inspiring. But my favorite video is the one I haven't seen yet. What made cootie catchers so fun is that everyone made them differently and you couldn't wait to see what they had written underneath the final flaps. There should be a space in your Canvas classroom where students can share videos and websites that inspire them, that made them think differently, that made them laugh, that put them in a mood. Use this space to "catch" new learning material that students can enjoy for years to come.
Hide And Seek:
Ah yes, the most classic of games, whether you played Hide and Seek or Kick The Can, the magic always lay in finding a great hiding spot, where no one could find out and then popping out at just the right time. Where are there spaces in your Canvas classroom where it seems like you have disappeared. I love leaving the chat option active and then rarely visiting it. Students think they have found a secret hiding spot and share some pretty fun stuff. But this important concept is best seen in your approach to teaching and learning. How can you remove yourself from the the traditional role of direct instruction and give your students agency in their own learning and creation. You should be considering that every summer as you get ready to PLAY with your learners.