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First Six Weeks of School - Community Building and Tone Setting

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Why is there a need for creating classroom community?

• Social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum: social and academic learning are inseparably connected.

• How children learn is as important as what children learn: Ideally there should be a balance between teacher-directed and child-initiated experience.

• The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions- classroom dialogues, peer discussions, sharing experiences, group activities etc.

• Children need a set of social skills in order to be successful academically and socially: skills like cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control. These should be taught in an integrated fashion throughout the school day.

These skills and attitudes are not about developing obedience but creating a sense of classroom community.

A. Introductions:

Sample introductory activities for KG – Class 2

Greeting: it’s necessary to create an environment of warmth and welcome even before the students enter the classroom. Older children welcome the younger children joining the school and escort them to their classroom. This comforts the younger children who

may be very nervous about a new place and new people. It also helps the older children practice responsibility and built connections with the school beyond their classroom.

Name tags: name tags can be used to help children create a space for themselves in a classroom. Children could either color tags made by the teacher or create their own tags (according to the age)

Variations for class 3-5

The game of Bingo: introduction can be made slightly interesting by asking children to find their classmates who have particular traits.

• A list of traits can be given in the form of a bingo sheet.

• Children can go around the room mingling with each other and looking for people who meet the criteria on their bingo sheet.

• When they find a classmate who meets the criteria, write down their name and take their signature against the criteria.

• Those who finish 10 signatures first win the game.

• A child can take only one signature from a classmate at a time.

This game helps the extroverted children to channelize their urge to meet a lot of new people. Shy children may be initially answering others questions. But as the momentum gains they will also join the fun.

I like apple

2. I have a pet dog in my house

3. My favorite food is ice cream

4. I come to school by bus

5. I have been to beach

6. I play games every evening

7. I read stories every day

8. I grow plants in my house.

9. I help my father and mother in

house hold works

10. I go to grand-parent’s house on holidays.

Sample questions for Bingo game

 

Exhibit boards: The teacher can introduce the idea of exhibits boards and how they will be used throughout the year. Exhibit boards are a visual reminder of work done by children. Children can put up their

photographs, writings, personal goals etc.

 

They create a sense of pride when children show their work to others. Children are also curious about going through the displays to see the work of other children.

B. Morning meeting:

It’s a 20-30 minute daily routine used to begin the school day. What do morning meetings do?

• Help students in transition from home to school

• Creates a climate of trust

• Help students start seeing each other as a community of learners.

How they work?

All classroom members gather in a circle to greet one another, to listen and respond to each other’s news, practice academic and social skills, and look forward to the events in the day ahead.

• Greeting: children greet each other by name, clapping, singing and other activities

• Sharing: children share any news of interest and responds to others sharing. E.g students sharing what they did in the summer holidays.

• Morning message: children knowing what activities they are going to do for the day.

Sample morning meeting for KG- class 2:

• Introducing themselves

• Answering simple questions like ‘what’s your favorite color?’, ‘what’s your favorite      food?’

• Playing games, singing songs

• Learning to greet each other

This conveys a message to children that the classroom is not just a space where the teacher talks to them but they also talk to each other and learn from each other.

Variation for grade 3-5:

To make the activity interesting for older children the students can be asked not just to name their favorite food but also recall the names and favorite food of three preceding students.

The morning greeting can be used as a chance to develop social skills in children. The teacher can demonstrate how we smile when we meet each other, maintain eye contact, greet each other in a cheerful tone etc. A few students can then be asked to repeat this demonstration followed by the rest of the class.

C. Closing circle:

Closing circle provides a calm positive tone at the end of the day. The class gathers in a circle at the end of the day, and each one takes a turn to share briefly something he/she liked about the day. Later, the topic for the closing circle might be varied to include:

• Something that class did well that day

• Something that could do better the next day

• Something that students look forward the next day

Since the closing circle requires children to run through the happenings of the day, it reinforces their learning and builds their communication abilities. Variation for class 3-5: for older children a short closing circle can happen daily and a longer one at the end of the week.

D. Setting ground rules:

To maintain a productive learning environment the class needs to agree on certain ground rules. Children are more apt to understand and respect rules they make, it’s important that everyone has a voice and say in making these rules.

Getting children’s attention

• Meeting behaviors

• Bathroom visits

• Transition times and outdoor times

Getting children’s attention: the first day can be used for setting agreeing on certain signals the teacher will use to get the attention of the class. E.g. A raised palm, a bell chime etc. these classroom routines reinforce cooperative behavior which aids and environment of student centered learning unlike the school-wide bells which create a forced routine.

What the teacher could do?

• Explain the need for ground rules like these (we will have time for group activities, but

  there will be times when we need to come together as a class for an announcement or demonstration, we may need a signal when the noise levels are too high.)

• Explain how the signal works

• Demonstrate the signal

• Helps students practice the signal as a class.

• Later, children can also make use of the signals for getting the attention of the peers and making announcements.

‘freezing game’:

The teacher can practice the signals in the form of a game the children enjoy. When you hear me ringing the bell and doing a countdown you need to freeze in your place as quickly as possible. We will measure the time it takes for everyone to freeze. The game ends when I say ‘you may melt’/’touch your nose’

Meeting behaviors: the class can discuss the various things they will do as a group. E.g. singing songs, playing games, sharing experiences etc. they can then discuss how they need to conduct themselves to do these things effectively. Alternately the teacher could give examples of disruptive behaviors and ask children how they would affect their group activities. Through this discuss they can arrive at a list of norms for meeting behavior. E.g. sit still, listen when another person is talking.

Bathroom visits: it is good for children to have the freedom to visit the bathroom, drink water and change their places to be comfortable during the school day. It is difficult to expect children to maintain their physical hygiene, health and therefore the ability to learn if these basic bodily functions are artificially restrained. It is possible for the teacher to agree on some processes which give these freedoms at the same time help maintain a decorum for classroom learning.

• One child can visit the bathroom at a time.

• A hook can be placed on a wall near the blackboard.

• The child needs to hang the name tag on the hook on his way out

• This helps the teacher know that the particular child is in the bathroom.

• It also helps manage the queue for visits to the bathroom during the classroom hours.

These rules can be discussed and questions can be clarified.

Transition times and outdoor times: there will be times when children are not sitting in a classroom but are moving from one class to another or on the playground etc. Expectations can be set on how children are expected to behave.

Sample norms:

• Moving without disturbing others,

• Not hurting/pushing others,

• Moving into the new activity without lingering on for too long.

The teacher can again discuss why these norms are necessary, model the right behaviors and bring the class together for a discussion when there are transgressions.

E. Hopes and dreams - the starting point for establishing rules with students

This is an exercise for a child to articulate a vision the year and share to collectively arrive at a common goal.

What will we do?

• Teacher shares his/her vision for the year and illlustrate- e.g. a new idea the teacher learned

about reading and would like to try in the academic year.

• Students and teacher together brainstorm for ideas e.g. doing math, making friends, being good students etc.

• Each student draws a picture to illustrate their thoughts.

 

After multiple rounds of articulation the drawings are mounted on the wall.

Variation for grade 3-5:

• Teacher sharing his/her hopes for the year with an example for students.

• Students share theirs one by one.

• One more chance to deeply reflect is given through filling a worksheet to guide their thinking, then share it with a partner.

• After this sharing common rules are made based on the goals students have set.

• Three to five rules are selected based on the inputs from the class.

 

Grade: 
1

Subject: 
English

Term: Term 1

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