Wonderful whiteboard

Whiteboard FI

The featured activity from Learning Twigs is used for English Language Learners but could be incorporated into other classrooms too. Students might create a collaborative story, write out and solve multi-step problems together, or simply share a collection of facts or questions from an upcoming unit.

I love the interactive nature of this simple technique and I am especially drawn to it because it is [read more...]

Got any Impressionism?

Art Trading Card FI

Today’s idea will help art teachers build community in the classroom while allowing students to express their individual viewpoints as artists.

Students at Becker Middle School created artist trading cards. While learning about color, line, and texture, they created 2.5 by 3.5 inch cards to showcase elements of art as well as their own [read more...]

Differentiating Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting FI

In this post from The Responsive Classroom, Carol Davis provides several ideas for making Morning Meeting more accessible for a diverse group of learners. She recommends, for instance, that teachers take time to teach the structure before jumping right into using it. She also suggests teaching routines to ensure that the structure is not too overwhelming for young students. Both of these ideas are sure to help students who struggle with [read more...]

Team building all year long

Reaching Up FI

This fantastic new post at Scholastic by Lindsey Petlak reminds us to keep using community building exercises, learning games, and getting-to-know you activities all year long. She provides a rationale for this work and suggests a handful of ideas that can be used in grades 3-8.

Ideas like the ones featured in this post can make classrooms feel more [read more...]

Letting students choose community

Hands FI

I am so glad I didn’t end this month of posts on community building without highlighting this idea from Larry Ferlazzo. Ferlazzo’s suggestion is to teach students about community, connection, and support by asking them to write about the learning environment they want in their classroom. He asks them if they want a “community of learners” or a “classroom of students” and then asks them to write their responses. Click over to Larry’s blog to read more about [read more...]

Marshmallows in math class?

Marshmallow FI

What can you do with spaghetti, masking tape, string, and a little collaboration? You can take the marshmallow challenge! Over at Middle School Math Rules, Ms. Nackel, describes how she used this game to engage in classroom team building and to teach her seventh-grade math students about communication and problem-solving. She provides a really nice Google slide presentation that explains the challenge step-by-step. Essentially, the game involves [read more...]

Random acts of classroom kindness

Kindness FI

To continue with this month’s theme of community building, I am spotlighting a really powerful idea from a guest post on Minds in Bloom.

Jenny Eldridge, the teacher who designed the activity, used it at the end of the year, but it would be just as appropriate to use in September as it can serve as a way for students to collaborate, work on common goals, and identify strengths.

Many teachers use versions of random acts activities (you can check Pinterest for more ideas). I like the version used in Ms. Eldridge’s class because it was so collaborative and it encouraged students to learn from their peers. Students in the class kicked off the project by writing special notes to their family members. Then they raced to collect more acts in the last weeks of school. The goal was to collect 100 before the event ended. The acts were posted on a colorful board in the classroom, which gave students a bit of [read more...]

Classroom “Twitter”

Twitter Board FI

Mrs. C’s idea at Classroom Simple is so clever and so fun! She is using a “Twitter Board” in her classroom to add a bit of playfulness to the day, to encourage interaction, and to elicit student responses on a variety of topics. To create your own wall, keep a stack of laminated strips handy so students can “tweet” at will. You can suggest a topic, such as “What was the trait you admire most about the historical figure we learned about today?” or “What are some ideas for staying calm and confident during a test?” or “What makes a character memorable?” This could also be used to [read more...]

Collective (and recycled) art

Recycled Bottle FI

I love art that is collaborative in nature because it builds community and a sense of togetherness while allowing different students to contribute in different ways. Some students may draft the picture, while others organize the roles and responsibilities of the artists, for example. This bulletin board is especially cool because it created entirely from plastic bottle tops– fabulous, right?

Want more cool art ideas or additional [read more...]

Wearing your adjectives

Adjective Wear FI

I found this idea at Fabulous Fourth Grade and thought it was a neat way for students to learn about adjectives. We also see it as an opportunity for teachers to encourage a bit of movement and interaction in a lesson that can otherwise be quite dull.

To create the posters, students have to find at least 20 words that describe themselves. You could encourage the use of the thesaurus for this part of the lesson and encourage students to use [read more...]