Establishing a Middle School Community
- Grades: 6–8
During the first week of school, my top priority is welcoming the incoming 6th graders into our middle school community. This year, I decided to use an EduGlogster poster, a digital poster, as the ice breaker activity.
Ice breakers are important in middle school because they foster student-teacher relationships. For some students, the transition to middle school is smooth and effortless, but for others, acclimation to middle school is more challenging. Whether the transition is smooth or challenging, middle school students are more successful if they feel connected to their school community. I have observed that students who value the school community are more motivated to succeed academically and socially. Throughout the year, my students endure many emotional, physical, and social challenges: peer pressure, time management, maturation, organization, and changing friendships. It is a scary, emotional time for them, as they strive to find themselves. The school community provides a support system to assist students in dealing with these challenges.
My EduGlogster poster provides the sixth graders with a glimpse into my personal life, an opportunity for them to get to know me. The poster serves as a model for their first assignment, which is to create their own multimedia poster to introduce themselves to the class. As a rule, they are receptive to their first public speaking presentation because they are presenting familiar content. Through our sharing, we create a risk-taking classroom environment. Trust and understanding become the foundation of our new middle school community. At the same time, I get to know my students, so I can diversify assignments and tap into their interests and aspirations.
To Glog or Not to Glog?
So, you think you might like to glog? EduGlogster, a Web 2.0 tool, is similar to Glogster, except EduGlogster is designed for educators, so don’t confuse the two entities. EduGlogster offers free student accounts — and they don't require email addresses for registration. After the initial setup, students have access until you delete their accounts. It is Web-based, so it is accessible from school or home. To learn more about how to use it, see an EduGlogster tutorial video. Other great resources include Photo Story 3 (free download, for Windows), Windows Movie Maker, and Soundzabound (royalty free music for schools). For evaluating their EduGlogster posters, I use this Glogster rubric.
Once my students are familiar with EduGlogster, multimedia posters are an option for future reports or classroom presentations. Whenever possible, I like to offer my students choices. I have discovered that middle school students are more motivated to learn when you offer them choices. Ultimately, the skills learned in creating and presenting with a digital poster are utilized throughout the year.
How do you establish a classroom community at the beginning of the year?