The first days of class are important because they set the tone for the rest of the school year. ‘Getting to know you’ activities help to foster meaningful interaction between students while giving an idea to the teacher about students’ language and cognitive level.
The following activities will inspire you to make those first days in the classroom enjoyable for your students:
1. Question Writing
a) First write up all the students’ names on the board in the order they are sitting in.
b) Distribute a pile of paper to each student.
c) Students have to write at least one question for each member of the class and it must be a different question for each person. Make sure they write who the question is to and from on the paper.
d) When everyone has finished, tell them to go and give their questions to the people they wrote them for.
e) When everyone has their questions, tell them to sit down and write the answer in a full sentence.
f) Next, tell the students to read their answer(s) to the person who wrote the question(s). That person can then ask more questions and should ask permission to report the answers to the class.
g) Get the students to report back on anything interesting they learnt, about another student.
2. Chain Stories
We’ve all seen chain stories in resource books (the ones where one student writes part of a story, folds it over and passes it to the next student who continues until there is a complete story written by everyone). These activities enhance creativity and interaction and require the cooperation of the whole class.
a) Do the chain story as normal, asking students to make sure their writing is clear.
b) When it is finished, students pass it one more time and then unfold and read their stories.
c) Tell the students that, now, this is their story and their responsibility. They have to write it out in prose as a complete story. They can add details, connectors, etc., but they have to keep the main events the same. Set a time limit (15-30 minutes depending on the class).
d) When they have finished, collect the stories, post them on the classroom walls, and recognise all the stories they wrote.
e) Ask for feedback on which story was the funniest, saddest, happiest, etc.
f) Finally, collect the writing in to mark.
3. Newspaper Picture Stories
To prepare for this task you need to cut out several pictures from newspaper or magazine stories or find online ones and print them out. The more diverse and bizarre the pictures are, the better!
a) Separate the students into groups of two or three.
b) Lay the pictures face down and ask one person from each group to pick four or five pictures without looking at them.
c) Each group will have to chat about the pictures they see.
d) Tell students that these pictures make up one news story from a newspaper. Give them 6-7 minutes to discuss and come up with an idea for a story and to put the pictures in order.
e) Then ask for a volunteer to write. Tell students they have to write out the story in no less than 200 words. (You can adjust the word limit depending on the class.) Give them 15 minutes to write, discussing as they go.
f) At the end, get the group members who didn’t write to check through for any mistakes.
g) Ask the group to think of an appropriate headline.
h) Tell them one person will have to read the story out, but not the person who wrote it. Give them some time to read through and practice. Tell the other students in the group they should display the pictures in the correct order.
i) Write the following questions on the board: Who? What? Where? When?
Tell the students that as they listen to the other groups’ stories, they should answer these questions.
j) The groups take turns to read out their stories. After each story, have a feedback session using the questions on the board.
k) Collect the writings to mark them.