Getting To Know You Activities

Hey Coach,

I used to have my students take a “learning styles” test on the first day of school to discover their best modality of learning, but recently learned that “learning styles” research has been debunked and those tests you see online aren’t really helping students find out how best to learn. I want to do something fun and engaging to learn about my students for the first day of school. Do you have any suggestions?

Learning Styles Debunked

Dear Debunked,

You are right! The research into learning styles has largely been disproven; the idea that one learns best in one modality is a fallacy. To read more about it, check out the article “Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence.” 
Getting-to-know-you activities are a great way to kick off the school year and to connect with your students. There are a million ways to get to know your students and for them to get to know each other. Check out these innovative ideas:

Why Infographics?
1.       An Infographic All About Me – You can have students create an infographic so you can learn about them. Your students can learn about you when you model this activity and they see your infographic! Check out some of these free templates for ideas. This is a tech-based option for those who have access to devices on the first day; if you don’t have tech on day one, you can print off the template for students to fill out.

Breakout EDU
2.       First Day of School Breakout! – The folks at Breakout EDU have already created breakout games for all grade levels. Use one of them or make one of your own!

3.       Snowball Fight! – Have a snowball fight! Click here for directions.

4.       Emoji Story – This is a twist on the ol’ what-I-did-over-the-summer essay. Have students write about what they did over the summer but have them use emojis! Check out Tony Vincent’s blog post on writing with emojis. Don’t have computers on the first day? You can print off a sheet of emojis and make copies for the students. They can cut out the emojis and glue them to a sheet of paper.
Students Love School
*Annoucement: Students + Love + School
5.       Design the Classroom – Teachers spend a lot of time in setting up their learning environment. Why not reclaim that time and turn the responsibility (and the heavy-lifting) over to the students? Check out Classroom Architect and co-planning the leFlipgridarning environment with students

6.       Getting to Know Us with Flipgrid – This cool tool is like the Swiss Army Knife of webtools! You can use it in a million different ways.  Check out this blogpost from Flipgrid to get oodles of ideas for using it on the first day

There are lots of ways to get to know your students, but “learning style inventories” are not one that we recommend. Research indicates that students learn best when they are engaged in meaningful, authentic work.  Each of the suggestions above will help you get to know your students while they are engaged in an authentic task. Not only will you get to know them personally but also how they learn and work. No “inventory” will do that for you. Remember, any effort you make in your classroom to allow your learners to be understood as individuals is a step in the right direction!

After reading over our suggestions, have you decided to try something new this school year? Let us know what you try out and how it goes via your favorite social media app using the hashtag #HeyCoach. We can’t wait to hear your success stories!

Best wishes for a great new year,

Your iTeach Coach
Contributors: Anna Bilyeu and Ana Hale


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