As many teachers prepare to “do school” remotely again, at least for part of the time this year, they are thinking about those critical first days of school and how to make them meaningful. As we all know, the first week can set the tone for the whole year. It’s THE time to start building a relationship with each student and them with each other. But how do you foster and promote the development of personal classroom relationships in a virtual environment? I believe that high school English teacher Angelina Murphy has found a great solution.
Remote Station Activities
Angelina has created a digital “First Day of School Station activity that includes both synchronous collaboration and asynchronous work.” Using a copied Google Slide deck for each of her students, Flipgrid, and Schoology as her Learning Management System (LMS), she has students working at virtual stations, both alone and together, to get to know her and each other. Her five stations, which can be completed each day spread out over the first week or in just one or two days, are designed to allow her to learn more about each student, encourage collaboration, and help them practice their tech skills in a low-stakes way. They work in small groups for two of the stations and by themselves for the other three.
Here’s the station schedule:
- Station 1 has the students introducing themselves using Flipgrid. It’s a great way for the teacher to start to put a name with each face and to also hear how to correctly pronounce the student’s name. The students also complete a Google Form so that they can tell the teacher a little more about themselves.
- Station 2 targets the syllabus and logistics of the class. After reading what is posted, students are asked to respond to two questions: What is one thing you notice? and What is one thing you wonder?
- Station 3 has the students create an “identity slide” in Google Slides. They are to place at least eight different images (their own photos or graphics they find on the web) on a slide that showcases their hobbies, favorite TV shows, what they are passionate about, etc. The teacher has provided a sample slide about herself for them to look at.
- Station 4 is all about getting to know each other. In groups of four (in a Zoom breakout room), students must learn their classmates’ names, favorite snack, favorite book/movie/music, etc. and share that via a Google Slide.
- Station 5 again has students work in small groups to create and share community statements about how they will treat each other. Once their lists are combined, the whole class will develop shared statements about how they will learn together moving forward.
Other Station Considerations
While this was designed for high school students, I believe it can work with almost any age group or content area. You could add more stations, change them to include more group work or more individual work, add in a family component for them to complete together, whatever you want. It’s a very flexible way of getting to know each other.
Angelina has been kind enough to share her slide deck so that anyone can make a copy of it and use it. You can find the template here.
Another Station Idea for the First Week of School
Jennifer Calderon, an assistant principal, offers another great example of stations for the opening of school. Her “Getting to Know You” slide deck has six stations that act as a review (or tutorial) of some key technology skills. They include the following:
- Station 1 – inserting a video of your favorite music
- Station 2 – timeline of your life
- Station 3 – favorite place
- Station 4 – drawing with the Shapes tool to show your favorite school supply
- Station 5 – Word Art with your favorite quote
- Station 6 – creating tables with your favorites
Here are a few other ways to build SEL (Social Emotional Learning) into the first week of school, whether you are remote or face to face: