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Wednesday, July 18, 2012
My school's policy is that by the second class period, we have to have our students' names down. It's not just the policy that matters. Students aren't going to feel like a teacher cares if he or she can't address them by name, so I had to figure out something. A fellow teacher suggested a seating chart, but that didn't work for me because I didn't want to be looking down at it during class, and I can't memorize their names under pressure.
So, here's what I came up with: On the first day of class, everyone writes their names on a piece of paper in big, black letters. Then I take their "mug shots" in groups or individually, however they are the most comfortable. This is also a great icebreaker. Some act shy about it, but really, they love it. I let them know that the pictures are for my eyes only, and just for a few days. Then, after the first day of school, I can memorize everyone's name without the pressure of doing it in the classroom. Sometimes I have a hundred students, so it's no easy task, but it's worth it. Every student deserves, and should expect, that a teacher knows his or her name.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Have them watch the two entertaining short films "The Lunch Date" and "For the Birds," available on YouTube. Then have a brainstorming session with the whole class on the themes in the films (prejudice, pre-judgment, karma etc....). Then have them write a short paragraph comparing and contrasting the two films with the focus on theme.
I love this activity because the students are immediately engaged because the films are short, funny and thought-provoking. They are also so disparate (one is an old-timey black and white and the other is a pixar animated film), that the students have to think about it to come up with the similar themes. Once they get it, they have an Aha! moment. They then usually write enthusiastically about their findings. Can't beat that.