The first week of school can be a very stressful event filled with worries, doubts, and fears. Most students come to school hoping they get a nice teacher that is caring, encouraging and supportive. Others wonder if they will see a familiar face in room. Regardless of the fears, we all have one thing in common, we all want to feel safe, loved and accepted for our individual differences. The first week of school can either make or break student character, so it's important that we provide opportunities that encourage individuality and collaboration.
During my 14 years as an elementary classroom teacher, my goal was to establish a positive, supportive learning environment that fostered creativity, individuality, and respect from day one. As we find ourselves in a new digital age, it is also important that we provide students with opportunities to utilize technology as a learning tool. A fun way to start out the school year is by breaking the ice with a Back to School Choice Board.
What is a Back To School Choice Board?
A Back To School Choice Board provides students with a range of activities that they can choose from to get to know their peers better. A great guide I like to use for designing choice-based activities is Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. This guide allows me to focus on a variety of learning styles so that my activities are designed to meet individual preferences. I also consider personality types when designing my choice boards. I try to include activities that will encourage my social butterflies, while also respecting my shy introverts. I then provide students with a laptop from our mobile lab and provide each of them with access to my Back To School Choice Board. I tell them that we are going to get to know one another while also choosing how we wish to do it. I ask them to choose six out of the nine options to complete. They will record their answers in the Google Form that can be accessed by clicking on the link at the top of the page. Once everyone has completed their six activities, we go around the room and share which activities each student chose to complete and what they learned about their classmates.
How to Create Your Own Digital Choice Board
1. Start with either a Google Document or Drawing. Add a catchy title, then add a table with 3 rows and 3 columns.
2. Add images and text in each cell of your table to support each activity. Hyperlink help guides/website resources to the images. You can even designate the middle space as a free space to create a Bingo version.
3. Include the link to a Google Form that students can use to enter their answers as they complete 6 of the 9 activities.
4. Include links to all resources that students will need to complete each activity by either linking it to the image or text in that cell.
5. Be sure to share the link to your document or drawing as "Can View", so that your original copy cannot be altered.