Dear Readers...Tonight I am writing about one of my favorite back to school activities for students. It's called, "Take As Much As You Need". It is not my original activity but one that I heard about and used. I gather all of my students and my teacher's aides and we sit in a big circle. I then, get out, a big, brand new roll of toilet paper. My only direction is: "Take as much as you need!" It's so much fun looking at the students expressions because they don't know why they are being asked to take the toilet paper squares. There are always a few giggles! Most kids are afraid of taking too much so they usually take less than five squares. There is usually one jokester who takes many sheets, however the joke is usually on him/her! The funny part is that last year it was the teacher's aide who took thirteen squares! This turned out to be a very large ice breaker!
I go first to model for my students. I tell them, "For each square of toilet paper that you too, you must tell every one one thing about you." Since I know what the activity is and don't want to steal the students thunder, I take four sheets. So, for example I may:
Tear off sheet one and say, "I am married to Mr. Aubin."
Tear off sheet two and say, "I have four children."
Tear off sheet three and say, "I have two really great dogs. Quibbley and Kirah."
Tear off sheet four and say, "I have a tortoise, named Squirt."
I want my students to see me as a person too. I want them to know that just like them I have a family and pets. I then go to the person next to me to take their turn. We continue around the circle until every one has had a turn.
I love this activity because it really gets every one talking. We all show each other mutual respect as we take turns speaking. Day one of school is all about creating an environment that will be conducive to learning. The physical layout of the classroom was set up before the students arrive. Day one is to explore that layout and establish the type of atmosphere you want in your classroom. Students need to know all classroom procedures and how their day will rotate. They also need to establish relationships with the adults in the room and with each other. Taking time to establish a routine and to communicate with each other gives the students a sense of community and will make for a positive start to the new school year.
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New Feature...A Book Review:
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
It's Chicago, 1968. Sam is the 14 year son of a civil-rights activist who is friends with Dr. Martin Luther King. Sam's dad, Roland Childs, is a staunch support of civil disobedience. Sam wants to follow his dad's beliefs that you can effect change without violence. Sam however is deeply effected by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and witnesses police brutality toward a friend. He is then drawn toward his older brother "Stick's" plight with the Black Panthers whose revolutionary platform is completely opposite of his father's belief of non-violent protest. The Childs are a middle class family that are loving and loyal even when they disagree.
When Sam's Dad is stabbed, will the brothers retaliate with violence? What will Sam do? Follow his father or his brother? Will he follow his heart or mind? Sam is trapped in a uncomfortable place, between a rock and a river.
This book is recommended for students in grades 6-10. Though the story is fictional the historical facts are accurate and poignantly teach students about the Civil Rights Movement in America lasting from 1955-1968.