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Getting to Know You - A Back to School Activity

School will soon be beginning for most of us.  I teach on the college level, but I still feel the most important thing I can do is to make the students feel connected to one another so that they at least know one other person in the class.  I always start each new class by playing a true/false game.  I start off the first class by listing four items about myself, three that are true and one that is false.  The students try to discover the false one.  On a 3” × 5” card, I then have the students write four things about themselves, three true and one false from which we, as a class, try to find the false one.  I then collect and save the cards.
At the next class meeting, I will choose 3-4 cards from which to read the true statements. As a class, we try to match the student to the card.  It really helps the students to relax and have fun at the same time plus they get to know each other. I usually do this activity for a couple of weeks until I sense that the students are comfortable being in the group.
By the way, here are my four statements.  Can you choose the false one?
  1. I have 12 grandchildren, six of whom are adopted.
  2. My husband asked me to marry me on our first date.
  3. I am a big Jayhawk (Kansas University) fan.  (We live in Kansas.)
  4. I have been teaching for over 40 years.
Give up?  You can find the answer on the page entitled Answers to Questions

You might be interested in this back to school item, a glyph entitled Back to School Glyph for grades K-3. The students color or put different items in a school yard based on information about themselves. This glyph is an excellent activity for reading and following directions, and requires problem solving, communication, and data organization.

A Review for A MUST Read Book: "Setting Limits in the Classroom"

Available on Amazon
Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. MacKenzie
How to Move Beyond the Dance of Discipline in Today's Classrooms

Recommended for: All Staff

The theory of education is something we were all required to study in college. It sounded good in the book; it was great for discussion, and it made us feel smart! But that same theory tended to fall apart when you became the teacher of actual students. In addition to theory, what we really needed were practical suggestions for classroom management, effective ideas for dealing with children, and management methods that were classroom proven. Well, look no further; this is it!

In his introduction, MacKenzie states that, “Teachers can’t teach their academic subjects effectively until they can establish an effective environment for learning. Classroom management is simply too important to be neglected or handled ineffectively.” The book discusses effective classroom structure, your approach to teaching rules, how children learn your rules, and establishing consistent rules. Throughout the book, the author wants you to recognize the discipline you might be using that just doesn’t work. He concludes the book with how to develop a school wide guidance plan.

Setting Limits in the Classroom gives answers to your most testing behaviors that you may experience in the classroom. It is solid advice for fixing the way you interact and deal with students. It is also practical in that it gives various real life scenarios to reenact to practice classroom management and apply in your classroom. It offers firm, down-to-earth, and sensible solutions that effectively cut off students' attempts at negotiating, bargaining, and being belligerent towards the teacher. It offers many options to the unsuccessful extremes of permissiveness and rigid authority and all points in between. MacKenzie outlines no-nonsense methods for setting clear, firm limits supported by words and actions. The book is really a step-by-step manual that shows you how to create structure and methods that work, stop power struggles, motivate students, and even solve homework dilemmas. It is a must read, and I highly recommend it for middle school and high school teachers.

To peak your interest, here are a few quotes I especially liked from the book.

1) Your consequences will have their greatest impact when they are immediate, consistent, logically related, proportional, respectful, and followed by a clean slate.

2) Much of what we consider to be misbehavior in the classroom is actually limit testing or children’s attempts to clarify what we really expect.

3) When our words are consistent with our actions, we don’t need a lot of words or harsh consequences to get our message across.

4) When we ignore misbehavior, we are really saying, “It’s okay to do that. Go ahead. You don’t have to stop.”

This is an ideal book for a whole school study or new teacher development training! In the appendix is a study group guide that lists the objectives for each week as well as study-group discussion questions for each chapter. I have successfully used this book with many student teachers who have in turn used it as a discipline and classroom management guide.


If you are looking for a set of simple rules, try Six Classroom Rules - That's all You Need available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

20 Study Tips You Won't Forget! Tips on How to Be Successful in School

Students struggle with many difficulties and setbacks in their lives, and because of all of the competing things vying for their attention, it is hard for them to concentrate on studying. And yet, if you are a student, you have to do at least a little bit of studying in order to progress from year to year.

Effective studying may not seem like the most exciting topic for anyone, but think of the big picture. The better a student's study skills are, the better the student will do in school, plus mastering effective study habits will make it easier to learn. Also effective studying can lead to better grades (in high school and college) and doing better on standardized tests.  Because I teach on the college level, I encounter many students who lack effective study skills or even habits, but no matter what study skills a student presently has, I know they can learn new strategies that can assist them in the future. 

For example, better time management and note-taking skills are important for many jobs. Being able to break down tasks into more manageable steps can help a student get things done in less time; thus, having more free time for themselves. Being able to handle test anxiety may help a student deal with other stressful situations such as an interview, a speech or oral exam.

One of my freshmen classes I teach is called "Conquering College" where we discuss useful strategies for effective studying. For this class, I developed a list of 20 study skills or tips that can help students succeed in school. Since the key to effective studying is studying smarter, not longer, have your students begin studying smarter with these 20 helpful and effective Study Tips You Won't Forget!  It is a free resource in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.