Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Great Lesson for Back to School

Is it really time to be thinking about going back to school already?  Have you really stopped thinking about school?  Chances are if you are reading this post then you are a lot like me and your class is always on your mind.  In this case, it would the class that is yet to come that you are thinking about.

School will be back in session before you know it and anxious students will be walking into your room with packaged paper, unsharpened pencils and clog free glue bottles.  I am a sixth grade teacher so my future students are anxious about starting in a new school, seeing new people, adjusting to seven teachers instead of two, learning a locker combination, making it to each class on time and, of course, who they will sit next to during lunch.

The purpose of this lesson is to utilize technology to show our future students that we are approachable, and, in the case of transitioning to middle school, that we understand their plight. There is a lot of talk about flipping the classroom.  Whether you are proponent or a naysayer of the idea, one thing cannot be argued, current technology tools make it easy for us to allow students access to classroom information at home.

The Lesson

First, find some photos of yourself.  I don't know where you keep your old photos, luckily I found mine in my closet.  Lucky may not be the right word as I remember the semi-depressing feeling last summer when I realized that it had been 30 years since I was a sixth grade student in middle school.

You want to show students that you understand what it was like to be a student and share some of your interests, to find common ground before they ever walked into your room.

The best place to start is by finding some photos of yourself around the same age as your current students.  I quickly scanned in these two photos and put them in a power point slide.

Next what are some of your interests or passions that you think would be appropriate to share with your students.  My rule of thumb here is that if you hesitate and wonder if it is appropriate to share then it probably isn't.

What books do you like to read, movies you like to watch, games you like to play, and the hobbies you enjoy?  All of these will serve as ways to make you a more three dimensional person in your students eyes and to give them the idea, at least in my case, that there is life after middle school.

Technology Layer

After you find the images and create the slides its time to take the project one step further.

If you have used a video editing program before (MovieMaker, iMovie, WeVideo) then you could plug your pictures into the editing timeline and record your voice.

I chose to use a screen recording program so that I did not have to worry about timing my slides to my narration.  Screencast-O-Matic is perfect for a quick project like this.  Pull up your PowerPoint, adjust the area you want to record and press record.  It was that easy, the program recorded my voice and the images on my screen.

When the recording is done you may save it to a personal YouTube channel, save it to the Screencast-O-Matic servers or download your new video onto your computer.  The easiest option, if you do not have a YouTube channel, is to save the video to the Screencast-O-Matic servers because you can then send a URL address to your students and they can watch the video at home.

If you do not have the ability to e-mail your students before the school year starts then you can handout the URL address on the first day of school and they can watch your video for "homework."

Here is the copy of the video that I made last year:


You can make this project as simple or as detailed as you want to.  Here is a link to a very quick and easy version of this project that can be accomplished with tape, paper, a word processing program and some photos:   The Perfect First Lesson For Back To School

That's all there is to it, hopefully you and your students will find some common ground to start the year on and maybe, just maybe, share a laugh or two at the same time.  If you want some more ideas on how to start your first day of school check out this post I wrote last year.