Sunday, November 3, 2013

Product of the Week: Vocab Exercises in Greek and Latin Roots

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Vocabulary-Exercise-Greek-and-Latin-Roots-Numbers-133694 

One of the most important strategies for determining the meaning of new words is by understanding Greek and Latin Roots.  This bundle of vocabulary exercises introduces students to 6 roots having to do with numbers: mono, bi, di, duo, tri, and multi.  

Inside the pack are 4 worksheets that give students information about the roots.  Each worksheet is focused on a different root and includes 7-10 sentences using words that contain the root.  Take a sneak peak at a sample worksheet below: 


The bundle also includes a quiz covering all four roots as well as an answer key.  

I have used this bundle very successfully as bellwork.  Each day, students use context clues and root knowledge to determine the meaning of the underlined word.  I have loved watching students' vocabulary and context clue skills blossom!  

The product is a bargain at $3.25.  You can find it at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Have a great week!

Katrina

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Goulish Sale!


It's time for a goulish Halloween sale!  From October 30-November 1st, The Teacher Lady will be having a 20% off Halloween sale!  All items in my store will be on sale! 

Here are a couple of highlights:


My 4.0 rated Read Like a Detective Presentation introduces students to
close reading for the CCSS.  It's normally $4.00, but it will be $3.20 during the sale!  Here's what previous users have said about it:

"Super resource!  Thank you so much!" - Wilds24

"Very helpful and easy to follow.  I love it!" - Silvia

"Enjoyed the poetry and the fact it continues with your writing like an investigative reporter."  - Cat66
Speaking of my 4.0 rated Write like an Investigative Reporter  Presentation, it is sporting a new and improved look!  It introduces students to writing with evidence, a critical foundation for argumentative writing.  It's normally $4.00, but will be $3.20 during the sale!  Teachers have said that it's a "great resource" and that they "love the fact that [it] uses poetry!"  This is one of my favorite resources; in fact, I'm using it tomorrow!

 

My 4.0 rated Characterization Graphic Organizers include 7 CCSS - aligned graphic
organizers that can be used with any short story or novel.  They're a bargain at $4.50, but with your 20% off, you can get them for $3.60! Want to know what teachers are saying about this product?                                                                                                                                                                         "Great ways to get students thinking about characters in different ways." -Natalie                                                                                                                                                                              "These graphic organizers are going to get much use as I work with my students. I've always struggled with helping them see all the aspects of the characters and these will really help." - Marynell

My 4.0 rated Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Unit is Common Core aligned. 
One of my colleagues just used it with her special education 10th grade Language Arts class, and she couldn't stop raving about how easy-to-use it was!  It's usually $7.00, but during the sale, it will be $5.60!  Imagine the time you'll save during the course of the 4 week unit!

Other buyers have said: 
"Can't wait to use this! Looks great." - Cindy

"Great resource and presentation. Thanks!" - winpiazza


I hope you check out The Teacher Lady during my Goulish Sale from October 30-November 1!

Cheers,

Katrina



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Product of the Week: Write like an Investigative Reporter Presentation

This week, I'm highlighting a product that addresses a huge component of the Common Core State Standards: argumentative writing. The CCSS require students to move from writing based on solely on personal opinion to supporting claims with evidence.

This shift to argumentative writing has been a huge topic of conversation at my school -- probably at yours, too! Last weekend, I went to a fabulous AP Language workshop (presented by the College Board) that had a focus on argumentative writing and I was truly relieved and happy to discover that I've been laying a really solid foundation for my students to master argumentative writing!

One of the tools I've used the last two years (and, in fact, will be using this Wednesday!) as a foundation for teaching students to use textual evidence in their writing my Write like an Investigative Reporter Presentation.  In it, I break down using evidence into three easy steps, easily remembered by the acronym ICE.
1. Introduce a claim.
2. Cite textual evidence to support your claim.
3. Explain how your evidence supports your claim. 

I originally intended this presentation to be used with middle school students, but I am planning on using it with my high school freshmen this Wednesday.  I think it will still be a terrific introduction for them as well! The presentation follows a typical "gradual release of responsibility" model: teacher example, student practice, reflection.  It also includes Cloze notes for students, and a rubric for evaluating student work.

I just updated the clip art in this presentation, using products from Blair Turner and Digital Divide and Conquer, and it looks great!  Here are a couple of sneak peaks:




Check out this presentation at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and let me know what you think of it!

Happy teaching and happy writing,

Katrina

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keep Calm and Be a Blazer: Tips for the Best School Year Ever!

As a former high school newspaper columnist (shout out to the LCHS Hilite!), I was thrilled when the newspaper staff at my new school asked me to be the first teacher guest columnist of the year.

I thought I'd share with you what I wrote: 

Keep Calm and be a Blazer

Can you smell that?  Fresh pencils, crisp paper, falling leaves – a new school year has begun.  With new classes and unfamiliar teachers, it can be easy to panic.  As a teacher new to Timberline, I’ll share my game plan for the best school year ever: Keep Calm and Be a Blazer! Huddle up, and I’ll give you the details.

Control what you can.  As much as we might try, we can’t control our parents, friends, teachers, coaches, or classmates.  However, there is someone you can control: you.  Like a wise colleague told me, “Let problems roll off your back like water off a duck’s back.” That’s what you can control.   Trying to control everything else will just frustrate you!  Be the duck.

Aim high and work hard.  What do you want to accomplish by May?  Is it a grade or SAT score?  A leadership position in a club or sports team?  A commitment to a college or workplace?  Pinpoint your most important goals and focus your energy like a laser beam.  If you don’t succeed at your first attempt, keep trying.  After all, Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before becoming president!

Learn something new.  A few years ago, my dad decided to take piano lessons.  As any daughter would, I teased him relentlessly (“Were there pianos in the Paleolithic Age, Dad?”), but it was inspirational to watch him learn something totally foreign.  It’s never too late to try something new.  Audition for the musical.  Join a club.  Try out for swim team.  You never know what may spark a new passion. 

Meet people.  I heard a statistic once (I don’t know if it’s true because 73% of statistics are made up) that most people spend 90% of their time with the same 10 people.  That’s fine, but there are many interesting people walking the halls of Timberline who you don’t yet know!  Start a conversation with someone new.  I did during my freshman year and met Mr. Groen (Side note: he didn’t go by Mr. Groen back then.  That would’ve been weird)!  

While this advice is aimed at students, it can absolutely apply to teachers, too!  What are your tips for having the best school year ever?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Constitution Day is September 17!

This year, my husband, Chris, is teaching AP Government.  He was a Political Science major (and is a giant nerd when it comes to politics), so this is right up his alley.

Needless to say, our house has been filled with C-Span, news outlets of every kind, and tons of primary source documents relating to government.  I have now been schooled in The Federalist Papers, Class Theory, and our founding fathers' ideals.  All of this is great because I am also interested in government and politics.

This morning, Chris' challenge to me was to see if I could list the amendments to the Constitution in order.  I did pretty well with the first 10, but I fell apart after that.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, Constitution Day is this week!  It's a great time to familiarize students with the US Constitution, and I have a product to share with you that will do just that!

This is a 50 question Constitution Scavenger Hunt created by Chris and me that will walk secondary students through the basic tenants of the US Constitution, including the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government, the Bill of Rights, and  all the amendments.  Some of the questions are true/false, some are fill-in-the-blank, and some are free response.  The Constitution is pretty dense reading, so the scavenger hunt is organized to mirror the Constitution itself for maximum accessibility.  All you need to do is provide each student a copy of the scavenger hunt and a copy of the Constitution!  (Chris will also be providing students with patriotic cake on Tuesday... lucky AP Gov kids!)

Here's a sneak peak of the scavenger hunt, which is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store:


  

 It's also a great way to get students reading Primary Source Documents -- a critical aspect of The Common Core State Standards.

Cheers to the red, white, and blue!

Katrina


Monday, September 9, 2013

POW: Product of the Week


My featured Product of the Week this week is my Detailed Participation Rubric.  I developed this handy tool several years ago after having students ask "Why did you give me that participation grade?"   I think if the phrasing of that question doesn't irk you a bit, you probably haven't been asked it yet! 

After I bit back the urge to say, "I didn't give you any grade; you earned it,"  I realized that I was being pretty ambiguous about students' participation and should probably provide students with the criteria by which I was judging their participation!

So... I made this: 

The thing I like about this rubric is that it stays away as much as possible from simply being "citizenship" points for good behavior.  Instead, it demands that students engage, listen, speak, and use time wisely -- all critical points for academic success.  By using this rubric, students are held to a higher standard than simply "being good."  They have to engage in class.

In my class, I have normally had students self-assess their participation twice a quarter.  I have found that by self-assessing, students are typically very honest and usually tougher on themselves than I would be.  If your students are struggling with participation, it can be useful to have them self-assess more often to raise their awareness of the importance of participating and how it affects their grades. 

Right now, my Detailed Participation Rubric is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for only $1. What a bargain!

I hope that it makes your life easier!  I know it was a huge help to me!

Happy Monday,

Katrina, The Teacher Lady

PS The amazing chevron design on my Participation Rubric cover is by Blair Turner.  Definitely check out her Teachers Pay Teachers store as well!  She's got lots of great stuff!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Four Must-Read Young Adult Books for Boys



As a secondary teacher, I have found that it can be tough to get boys to read, especially fiction.  I wish I could say that I've unearthed the perfect formula for what makes a book appealing to teen boys.  I haven't.  However, here are a few that I've found almost always engage my male students, especially those who are a little skeptical about reading.

Peak by Roland Smith

This easy-to-read book is perfectly appropriate for middle
school and early high school students.  It follows the story of Peak, a teenaged climbing enthusiast who gets into legal trouble after scaling a high rise building.  Peak is sent to live with his father, a world-class mountain climber.  Prior to his stay with his father, Peak's teacher encourages him to keep a diary in a Moleskine notebook, and the book is comprised of Peak's journal.  Unbeknownst to Peak, his father is hatching a plan to climb Mt. Everest, taking Peak along for the ride.  If Peak succeeds in summitting Everest, he will be the youngest person to achieve this goal; however, a young Sherpa begins to make him see his goal -- and his father -- differently.  Boys will learn the value of friendship, trustworthiness, and honor in this fast-paced page-turner.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This book affords readers an up-close and personal look at the life of Junior, a mentally handicapped Native American boy who decides to go to school "off the rez" in order to find a more hopeful future.  In the process, Junior experiences a lot of loss, including losing his best friend, his sister, and grandmother.  However, he also finds new talent as he becomes an excellent student and the star of the high school basketball team.  Junior's musings on race, equality, alcoholism, and hope are interspersed with immensely engaging cartoons depicting his view of himself and his world.  I taught this book last year with a developmental reading class of college freshman, and they couldn't get enough of it.  One student told me, "I haven't finished a book since, like, second grade, and I liked this one so much I read it twice!" With that said, this is the "absolutely true diary" of a teenaged boy, and Junior doesn't hold anything back.  We hear about alcohol abuse and masturbation (can't believe I just typed that, but it's true!).  This is definitely not a book for 6th graders, but older high school students will love it.  I also have a Common Core aligned unit  available for this book on Teachers pay Teachers!

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Ever since I read Slam in junior high, I have been a huge
Walter Dean Myers fan, and this -- in my humble opinion -- is his magnum opus.  In this book, Steve is an aspiring screenplay writer who is on trial for murder because he was the lookout in a robbery gone terribly wrong. Steve tells his story in the form of journal entries and a screenplay he's developing about his trial and his time in jail.  The novel's innovative structural style makes it a fairly quick read; however, some students may have difficulty switching back and forth between journal entries and screenplay. Steve perceives that the rest of the world sees him as a monster, and he thinks they might be right.  Through his diary and screenplay, he tries to rediscover his personal standards and sense of worth.  This is the most stolen (and most frequently given away) book in my classroom library, which I think says a lot about how much it means to the students who have read it. 

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This book is the second in a trilogy entitled The Last Survivors.  However, it's not the type of trilogy in which you must read the books in order; they're more "companion" books rather than "series" books, if that makes sense.  At any rate, the story is about Alex Morales, a teenage boy who has an incredibly bright future ahead of him, and his younger sisters.  When an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit, chaos ensues on earth. Tsunamis wipe out the coast.  Earthquakes ravage the landscape.  Volcanoes erupt, spewing clouds of ash thick enough to blot out the sun.  In all of this, Alex's parents go missing, leaving him to be the caretaker of his sisters in an increasingly desperate New York City.  Alex must learn to negotiate on the black market, deal with the loss of his parents, and try to make the best decisions to benefit himself and his sisters.  Kids love this book, partially -- I believe -- because they like to imagine themselves as survivors in a world without adults. 


I'm teaching an Independent Reading class this semester, and I will be recommending these books to the guys in that class.  I'm sure they will have some suggestions for me, too!  I'll make sure to pass those suggestions along to you as well!

Have a marvelous week!

Katrina, The Teacher Lady

Thursday, August 22, 2013

4 Young Adult Books to Engage and Inspire Girls



I've been working on "refreshing" my classroom library, and I want to share with you some terrific books I've come across.  There's always a lot of talk about how characters in books provide role models (either consciously or unconsciously) for students, can provide a window into a different world, and can provide a mirror into girls’ own lives.  I, for one, am a big believer in connecting kids to books that will instruct, soothe, and inspire.

Today's list is going to be specifically for girls because -- let's face it, being a teenage girl is not for the faint of heart!  I know some (actually, maybe many) boys will like these books too, but the boys will also get their own post on another day!

** I should warn that this blog post WILL include spoilers.  Sorry!  I will try to keep them to a minimum, but it's the best way to tell you about these books! ** 

Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox
Do you want your female students to have strong, positive role models?  Meet Lynne Cox, distance swimmer extraordinaire!  When I started the book, I thought that "swimming to Antarctica" was metaphoric -- like achieving an impossible goal.  NOPE!  This poetic memoir chronicles Cox's swimming conquests around the world, from the Bering Strait during the height of the Cold War to the Nile River to (wait for it)... Antarctica!  Cox's tenacity, competitive spirit, and warmth is completely inspiring.  I couldn't put the book down, and -- although it is a challenging read -- the students to whom I have recommended it have loved it as well.  Lynne is certainly the epitome of what it means to be a female athlete! 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Beginning high school is a stressful time in any girl’s life, but for Melinda, it’s a living nightmare.  Raped at a summer party, Melinda called the police, which resulted in many popular kids getting in trouble.  She refuses to talk about why she called the police and becomes the victim of relentless bullying.  As the year progresses, she sinks deep into depression, neglecting her studies, and refusing to speak.  When she begins to connect with her art class and an inspirational teacher, she finally finds her voice, learns to speak out about the rape, and even confronts her rapist.  It might sound like depressing fare, but Speak provides a very honest look at resiliency and empowerment.  This book has also won more awards that I care to list here. Trust me, it’s good!

Divergent by Veronica Roth
This book, which I can't stop talking about, is sort of like The Hunger Games for older teens.  Tris is a girl growing up in a future society in which teens must choose one of five "Factions" to join for life.  Each faction prizes a specific virtue: honesty, bravery, selflessness, peace, and intelligence.  When Tris finds out that she is "divergent," a special type of person with an aptitude for all five factions, she must choose a faction in which she will remain for the rest of her life.  Her choice is Dauntless, the faction for the brave (and possibly foolhardy).  During her initiation to the faction, she struggles to find her identity and establish friends, ultimately becoming romantically involved with another character.  As the plot progresses, Tris’ status as Divergent ends up thrusting her into the middle of a situation that may lead to civil war among the factions.  Tris is an admirable character -- courageous and strong, but also pleasantly vulnerable and flawed. Girls will definitely relate to her!  Bonus: It’s also going to be a movie in 2014, which is sure to motivate kids to read it!

Sold by Patricia McCormick
Sold is a National Book Award Finalist novel composed
entirely in snippets of poetry.  It provides a window into the life of Lakshmi, a Nepalese girl sold by her unsuspecting, poverty-stricken family into the sex trade industry.  Thinking she has procured a job as a maid in a fancy hotel, Lakshmi is brought to India and forced to work as a prostitute.  Obviously, this is not a book for 6th graders, but older students will have their eyes opened to some of the incredible injustices that girls face around the world.  In Lakshmi, they will find an optimistic heroine who triumphs over adversity – a young woman well worth their admiration. Also, contrary to what one might initially think, novels written in poetry are surprisingly accessible for struggling readers, as they have fewer words on each page, allowing students to progress relatively quickly through the book.   

I hope you and your students enjoy these books! Stay tuned for "Engaging and Inspiring Books for Boys" coming soon to a blog near you! :)

Happy reading!


Katrina, The Teacher Lady

Thursday, August 15, 2013

TpT Back-to-School Sale!



Drum roll, please! Do you feel the energy in the air today?  That happy feeling that's pretty much a mix between Christmas Eve and your birthday?  Not sure what I'm talking about?  

Well...it's almost time for the Teachers pay Teachers Back-to-School Sale!  

In The Teacher Lady's shop, everything will be 20% off in addition to the discount given by TpT!

Let me highlight a few of the great products I will have on sale!  In the caption, I'll link to each product on TpT, so you can access them quickly and easily! 

My Ultimate Back-to-School Survival Packs will be 20% off!  They're already a terrific value, so this is truly a steal!

This Ultimate Back-to-School Pack is specifically designed for elementary teachers.  It has so much good stuff in it, and will also be 20% off in addition to TpT's discount!

I love graphic organizers!  They're so great for scaffolding students' success!  This bundle of 7 Characterization Graphic Organizers scaffolds students through the Common Core Standards having to do with characterization. 

I also have several Common Core Aligned Units that will also be 20% off in addition to TpT's discounts!  Here is my personal favorite: 

I can't wait to use this 3 Week Unit on MLK's I Have a Dream Speech!
My students sometimes tease that I have a card-sort for everything.  They're right!  Card sorts are a great way for students to demonstrate comprehension actively!
I've used this Point of View Card Sort every year.  Students match sample passages to the point of view of the passage.  It's a quick and easy way for me to check if they understand point of view without making them do a boring worksheet or quiz! This summer, I gave it a make-over with cute clip art!

Of course, I have some Social Studies Resources that will also be on sale.  Here's one that is sure to be a time-saver!

This Scavenger Hunt, which was actually created by my amazing AP Government teaching husband, walks students step-by-step through the US Constitution.  It's a great way to help them access a complex document!

Whew!  Those are just a few of the amazing things I'm offering on sale this weekend at The Teacher Lady on TpT.  Just imagine all the other resources available as well!  I can't wait to get shopping!

Katrina





Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Classroom Tour!

10 days ago, I walked into my new classroom (which happens to be in a 1970s-ish portable) for the first time.  Let's just say that it needed a bit of cheer.  Days of blood (not literally), sweat (yes, some), and tears (yeppers, a few!) later, and my classroom is just about ready to go!  Yippee!

Would you like a tour? Here we go!
Oh my goodness!  So much to do!  Thankfully, the kind campus foreman helped me haul all my stuff (and there was a lot of it!) into the room.
Lots of storage...but a little...um...drab.
Clearly, I made a giant mess.  See that beige bulletin taped to the wall?  Stay tuned for its transformation!
Yeah for a window!  Also, yeah for hubby helping out in the left hand corner!
I moved the desk, bookshelves, and media cart.  I hoped to make my "teacher work station" a central place for all my stuff.  Moving the bookshelves closer to my desk will allow me to keep an eye on books coming and going from my library. 
Here's how my desk turned out.  Those of you who know me know that this is probably the neatest it will be...ever. 

Here's my organization station behind my desk.  The pennant is available in my Back to School Printable Pack and
The Ultimate Back-to-School Pack.   

New books with room on the shelf to add more throughout the year!  I organized my books by genre this year.  I think that will help students choose books in which they are interested. 

Remember that bulletin board that was taped to the wall?  I promised that it would undergo a transformation!  Here is its new identity as a word wall for my English 1/2 class!
The only other good spot I had for my word wall for my Read/Write 9 class happened to be occupied by a whiteboard.  What's a teacher to do?  No problem!  I covered the whiteboard, stapled up clothesline, and will hang my words by clothespins.  
Remember those drab cabinets?  First of all, they're fabulous storage!  Secondly, they're perfect for displaying all the terrific YA books that will become movies this year!  Kids love reading the book and seeing the movie!
Here's the front of my room.  On the left, you can see my Voice Level Expectations board.  You can read about it here. The rest of the bulletin board is for reading and writing strategies.  Don't you love the zebra print?  It's wrapping paper from Party City!
Here's my Student Center, including supplies, dictionaries, absent work, etc.  Yes, that is a paper-cutter you see on the table.  It will be removed.  There's no way I'm letting students risk chopping their fingers or arms off!
Remember that window?  I wanted to draw as much focus to it as possible!  I think the new drapes (made from fabric I bought for $2 at Goodwill) do the trick!  The pinwheels are so easy to make with some construction paper and a hot glue gun!

So that's it!  I think it's a big improvement, don't you?  I know that traditionally high school classrooms aren't so "decorated," but I can't for the life of me understand why not.  I prefer to work in a cheerful environment, and I think that most students learn better in a cheerful environment as well!

How is your classroom coming along?  Share pictures!

Katrina

Monday, August 12, 2013

5 Back-to-School Activities to Break the Ice


Creating a safe classroom environment is so important at the beginning of the year!  In order create that positive environment, you've got to get students talking to break the ice. 

Here are a few of my favorite, tried and true ice breakers for getting students comfortable and talking!

The Paint Chip Activity
My amazing teaching partner, Nicole, and I have used this activity many times.  It's so easy and requires almost no time or money.

Here's how to do it:
Pick up paint samples from a home improvement store.  If you get the strips of paint samples, cut them apart.

Give each small group of students several paint samples.  Have students choose which color best represents their summer.  Have them share in their groups.  You can also take volunteers to share with the class.

Helpful Tip:  I like to model what kind of thinking I'm looking for prior to having students choose their paint sample.  I might say something like, "I chose Raspberry Delight" because I picked a lot of raspberries this summer.  It also reminded me of my summer because it's red, and I got a little sunburned at the beach this summer!" If you skip the modeling, I have found that students tend to say things like, "I picked yellow because it was sunny."


I Like People Who...
This is a great activity to help students see the similarities between themselves and their classmates.  Here's how it works:

Standing in the front of your room, say, "I like people who (fill in the blank)." As you do this, put your left hand on your hip.  Then, repeat this process with the right side, mentioning another person you "like."  Invite students to make a chain with you.  Encourage a student who has one similar "like" as you to link arms with you on that side, saying "I like people who (repeat your like) and I like people who (they make up this other like)."  Continue on until you've created a huge chain of students who share likes and interests. 

Question Ball

This activity is fantastic for kinesthetic learners, costs about $1, and can be used for a variety of different purposes throughout the year. 

Here's how to do it: buy a beach ball or playground ball.  I got mine at Dollar Tree for (you guessed it!) a dollar.  

Use a Sharpie to write the numbers 1-10 all over it.  

Create a question to go with each number.  

Here are the questions I use: 
1. If you could have dinner with anyone in the whole world, who would it be? 
2. Tell us about a talent you have. 
3. Do you have any siblings?  Are you the oldest, youngest, or in the middle? 
4. What is your favorite season and why? 
5. Would you rather be loved and poor or rich and hated?  Why? 
6.  What is your favorite subject? 
7. What kind of music do you like? 
8. What is your favorite book or movie? 
9. What are your hobbies? 
10. What is your pet peeve? 

Then, in a large group setting, toss the ball to a student.  Have the student tell you the number that is closest to his/her left thumb.  Read the question that corresponds to the number and have the student answer.  The student then can toss the ball to whomever he/she chooses, and the process repeats.

You can use your "Question Ball" for the rest of the year; simply swap out the get-to-know you questions with appropriate subject material questions!

Helpful Tip: Keep the questions pretty generic, since students will have to answer in front of the whole class.  You may even let students have a "pass" -- if they aren't comfortable with the question asked, you can ask a less personal one.

Snowball Fight

After the first time I did this activity with my 7th graders, a couple of students came up to me and said, "That was the coolest thing we've done at school!"  If that isn't a favorable testimonial, I don't know what is!  The best part is, this activity is so, so easy.  It takes no prep.  None. Here's how to do it: 

Have students take out a piece of paper.  Without writing their names on the paper, have them write down 5 facts about themselves that others may not know about them.  Then, have them crumple up the paper.  Set your timer for a minute and declare a snowball "fight," in which students can throw their crumpled up paper snowballs at each other for a whole minute.  Seriously.  It will be fun. 

Then, have students pick up the snowballs, making sure that every student has one snowball.  Have students uncrumple their snowball and read the facts. Then, tell them that they need to find the person whose snowball they have.  Once students have found their snowball's owner, they can write the owner's name on the top of the snowball. 

You can then have each person share the 5 facts on the snowball in their possession and have them tell whose snowball it is.  


Human Bingo

This is another quick and easy activity!  All you need to do is make a copy of a Human Bingo grid for each student.  (I have the one pictured to the left available here for $1.)  Then, you explain the activity to students: individually, they will look for classmates who have done certain things, such as visiting a mall, living in an apartment, visiting a different state, etc.  Once they have found a student who fits the characteristic, they write that student's name down.  The first one to get 5 student names in a row wins!

Helpful tips: I like to require students to ask a follow-up question, such as "Which state did you visit?" and have them write down the answer to the question as well.  That seems to spark better conversations and make it more likely that students will actually remember some of the facts they learn from their classmates. 


Happy back-to-school season!  Good luck breaking the ice with your new students!
-- Katrina, The Teacher Lady