This writing activity will help students get to know each other’s names, cause them to interact and work cooperatively, give you a quick snapshot of your students as writers AND give you something for parents to see when they show up to your classroom in the first weeks of school.
Ice Breaker – Before school starts, purchase a blank puzzle. (We’ve added some links to a few options from Amazon below.) On the first day of school have students each take a piece of the puzzle and write their names on them. If there are extras you can write your name, your principal’s name, your ATP, counselor or anyone else who will work directly with your students this year. Depending upon the size of the pieces, students might also decorate them to reflect their own individual styles. (If it is a larger puzzle, you might even have students decorate a few different pieces with some of their favorite things.) Have a table or flat surface set up in your classroom for students to put their pieces when finished. Throughout the first week of school give various groups of students time to go to this area to work on putting the puzzle together. When it is finished, use an adhesive that is made for puzzles (Amazon link below) to glue the puzzle together.
Class Discussion – Have students gather to discuss the sentence “We’re all in this together!” Students can be encouraged to tell what this sentence means to them personally and give examples of it’s meaning in their own lives (ex: families, sports teams). You can also lead the discussion into what this sentence could mean on a bigger scale for our world (ex: peace, conservation). Close the discussion by asking how it could apply to the class this school year. Create a few classroom goals to display in the room. These could be academic goals or team building goals you can revisit throughout the year to evaluate their progress.
Writing Activity – In front of the class, write a paragraph or short report about yourself to give students a review of the format you want them to use (introduction, at least three details, closing). This will help your students to get to know you a little better. Discuss the parts and information you expect them to include. Here are two graphic organizer options your students can use (depending on grade) to create their rough drafts:
Once they are finished with their rough drafts, have them meet with a peer to read, revise and edit their writing. Use notebook paper or the following template for students to write their final drafts. (Second page is provided for students who have written in a report format.)
Bulletin Board – Cut out letters or create a banner to say “We’re All in This Together!” for the title of your bulletin board. Hang the glued puzzle in the center. Take individual pictures of your students to hang with their pieces of writing. Also take a class picture to hang underneath the puzzle. When parents show up they can take a look at the student writing and get a glimpse of the entire class. (You may also wish to display the goals the class devised together.)
Puzzle Piece clip art by Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Design