Creating Community through Writing
As students return to the classroom, they need to feel that they own the space and the learning that takes place in it. Get them off to a good start by collaboratively writing an owner's manual (E) that describes the classroom's areas and procedures.
Younger elementary students who are just learning to write can build community as they collaborate to establish classroom guidelines. This lesson plan (E) focuses on a simple shared-writing activity to bring students together as they decide on the structures for the classroom. See also Becoming Writers in the Elementary Classroom: Visions and Decisions.
Getting to know one another is a fundamental step for community building. Learn more about a get-acquainted activity (M) that invites pairs of students to learn about each other and share their findings with the rest of the class. Older students may enjoy writing a newspaper profile of a classmate (S), with a particular focus on a talent, interest, or passion of that classmate.
To learn more about students as writers, try this lesson plan (S-C), which uses Richard Wilbur's poem "The Writer" as an inspiration for students' descriptions of their writing practices.
Find seven creative ways to kick off college classes (other than reading the syllabus) in "What Works for Me: First-Day Class Activities" (C) from Teaching English in the Two-Year College. These ideas will engage younger students as well.
Teacher educators can share "Insights for Interns: First Day Fears" (TE) from English Journal with preservice and new teachers. The article includes a first-time intern's fears as she approaches the first day of class and an experienced teacher's response and encouragement. Preservice and new teachers may find the article effective as a starting point for their own journal entries on their fears and jitters and the support that they receive from one another and from experienced teachers.
For even more activities and resources, check out these Back to School Resources (G), including lesson plans and additional articles to start the year off right.
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