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5 Must Do Online Back to School Activities

Jun 01, 2021
5 Online Back to School Activities

If you want to learn how I build relationships with students from the get-go, check out my Building Student Relationships through Online Learning blog post here and my 3 Tried and True Ways to Build Relationships in the Online Classroom blog post here. 

I have to tell you, if I ever have to do another “icebreaker” it will be too soon. I just can’t do it. And so I have some other things that I think are important for the beginning of the school year. Here are my top 5 Online Back to School Activities (that could be used in the classroom too!)

  1. Creation of Classroom Rules and Expectations

I know we all have classroom rules, whether they are explicit or not. But I like to create my classroom rules with the students in each class. 

While my 5th graders like the rule about no blurting, it isn’t a great rule for the 8th grade because I have a student with echolalia and he can’t always control the blurting. These classes need very different versions of rules and grace. 

That is why I like to create the rules with my students and they buy into the whole thing so much more when they have a hand in making it. 

You can check out the method I use with my kiddos here. 

  1. Go over the routines and procedures of your classroom

So, I know that in an online classroom, there are not as many routines and procedures, but each teacher is different and does things a different way. How you layout your LMS may be different from another teacher’s. How you want assignments handed in might be different. What students should do when they join the lesson could be unique. 

This is why it is important to go over each of these things with students so they are aware of the expectations ahead of time. 

  1. Student Survey

Every year, I like to start with a student survey. I include logistical information like “Do you have a computer?” or “Do you have  WiFi at your house?” but then I go into some things about the student and their personality. I also like to put in questions about their learning style and their preferred way of working. 

This is a great way to begin CRT or Culturally Relevant Teaching because you can’t build on a student’s culture around education if you don’t know what it is. 

  1. Give them an idea of what the year will be like

I know that not everyone is going to have a syllabus for their class and I think that is fine. In fact, I wouldn’t have a syllabus for my class if my school didn’t require me to have one. But it is good to give students an idea of what they are getting into. I like to do stations where they can explore the materials we will be using like the novels we will be ready or student papers from previous years or cool posters students have made in the past. This way, they are invested and excited to do it for themselves. 

  1. Build Relationships through Fun! 

In those first days, I try to do a little content area teaching but I try to make it light and enjoyable. I also use this time to play games like Kahoot or a scavenger hunt to lighten the mood. 

The first days of school can be scary for teens and tweens. They aren’t sure who their friends are yet or what to expect, so they have a lot of other stuff going on in their heads too. 

I also really like just chatting with them. I start my online live lessons about 5 minutes early and I don’t start until 3 minutes after when I am supposed to just because I always have at least 1 student running late. 

In these 8 minutes, we just chat about anything that comes up. Some examples are sir plants, Pokemon cards, the idea that I am in a coma and this class is a figment of my imagination. Really it’s just about where the conversation goes and enjoying some downtime and some time to be social. 

These are the things that I believe are essential in those first few days back to school and how to keep the beginning of the year light, fun, and build relationships with and among students (without using worn-out icebreakers.)

To help you kick off your year right, grab my Simple Online Teacher Email Swipe Files! There are tons of email templates including a beginning of the year introduction that you can send to students and families to help them get to know you and for them to reply so you can get to know them too!