Getting back to school or starting a new course is always full of excitement and enthusiasm. In both cases, a well-designed activity will reinforce better engagement, get students talking, and set a favourable tone for classroom management. High-level students are mostly keen on activities which are challenging, can teach them something new or expose them to the use of an elaborated language. In this article, you will find ideas for your first lessons.
- Getting to know each other – Self-portrait
It is always great to get acquainted with a new group by asking students to introduce or describe themselves (more enthusiastic ones can draw). That can be done in a way of speed-friendling (like speed-dating but with the purpose of making new friends). This will be quite informative, surprising and fun.
Prepare a set of cards with topics, for example, family, work, hobby, travelling, holidays, ambitions, dreams etc. Divide students in pairs, ask to take one card and ask each other questions related to this card (encourage to listen carefully to answers and ask follow-up questions). Students should talk to each other for one minute, then the teacher changes pairs and asks to interview each other according to the topic on the second card and so on. Students should mingle and talk to as many other students as possible. They should also remember what they have in common with other students. Collect open class feedback about similarities.
- Snowball fight
Students write three interesting facts about themselves on slips of paper and then squeeze them, creating some kind of a snowball. Students stand in two opposite lines and throw papers to each other. They continue throwing ‘snowballs’ for half a minute, then each student chooses one squeezed paper, reads the information there and tries to find the author. He/she comes to other learners, asks yes/no questions to find out whose card it is. When the author is found, he/she asks for extra questions to the given points.
- Student Surveys (Needs analysis)
Classroom surveys have been always a great way of getting a better sense of classroom needs. The information received will serve as a tool to evaluate learners’ motivation level, aims and desires to imagine the arsenal of teaching methods and strategies being implemented. The survey will show students how valuable their opinions may be. In this sample set of survey questions, students need to answer yes or no.
- I best work when it is quiet
- I can work when there is noise in the classroom.
- I like to work at a table or desk
- I like to work on an assignment until it is completed.
- Sometimes I get frustrated with my work and do not finish it.
- I like to learn by moving around the room.
- I like to work by myself
- I like to work in a group
- When students complete the survey, they compare their answers with their peers to find some commonalities.
Read more about needs analysis in this article.
- Goal Setting
The teacher divides the class into groups. The groups are provided with necessary materials such as markers, posters, tape, piece of chart paper. Students share their learning goals with the rest of the group members and find one common goal they wish to accomplish during their studies.
As a more refined version of this activity students can create classroom contracts designed for the teacher with bullet points describing their obligations as students and their expectations from the teacher. At the end of the course or school year, they can turn back to contracts to see which items were accomplished. Here is a sample contract:
These first day activities will rock and create a warm and informative classroom atmosphere since with the help of them, the teacher not only gets to know the learners and but also their needs better.