Creating a Scavenger Hunt to Reinforce Classroom Procedures
- Grades: 6–8
I spent an entire class period going over classroom expectation and procedures. So, why are my students confused? I found out what I was doing wrong when I put myself in their shoes.
In middle school, students have many teachers, one for each subject. I am just one of many teachers introducing classroom procedures and expectations on the first day of school. Depending on their schedules, when students return the next day, they will have met other teachers with different rules and expectations. Seventh and 8th grade students who have been in middle school before are more adept at adjusting to multiple teachers. However, incoming 6th graders find it difficult to remember all the information covered in different classrooms. Understandably, they are overwhelmed.
Therefore, at the end of the first week of school, I plan a scavenger hunt that reviews classroom expectations and procedures. When my 6th graders return for the second week of school, they navigate with confidence, resulting in a productive learning environment.
The scavenger hunt serves many purposes. Although the primary outcome is to reinforce classroom expectations and procedures, I use the opportunity to make informal assessments. For example, the students select their own partners. While they are working, I observe who their friends are and how well they work together. Throughout the year, we engage in many group activities, so I assess social skills —strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I like to empower my students with technology. I take this opportunity to train my students on using the document camera as a presentation tool. Their brief presentations provide the opportunity to assess their public speaking skills: facing the audience, articulating words clearly, and speaking loudly enough to be heard from the back of the room.
Designing the Scavenger Hunt
My scavenger hunt is designed to fit my classroom expectations and procedures:
- Writing homework in planners
- Classroom rules
- Signing out classroom library books
- Fire drill procedures
- Signing out of the classroom
- Art supplies
- Portfolio system
- Responsibilities when absent from class
Students get the scavenger hunt answers in the welcome packets they received on the first day of school, on classroom posters, or in thinking back to classroom discussions. When designing the activity, I target the student behaviors that I need to manage my classroom effectively. Each teacher has his or her own expectations; however, successful teachers share common ground. The resources below will guide you in determining guidelines and procedures to consider when designing your scavenger hunt:
- Jim Burke provides tips for launching a successful school year in a free online article, "Creating a Great First Impression" published in Scholastic’s September Survival Guide for New Teachers.
- Bonnie Murray offers a comprehensive list of classroom procedures that should be taught during the first weeks of school in her article, "Head Off Behavior Problems With Classroom Procedures."
- Paula Naegle offers additional advice for classroom management in her free online article,"Teaching Classroom Routines and Procedures," which was adapted from her book, The New Teacher's Complete Sourcebook: Middle School.
Here are the steps I follow to make my scavenger hunt successful:
- Introduce and define a scavenger hunt.
- Inform the students of the sources for the answers.
- Students select a partner.
- Hand out scavenger hunt directions.
- Put the student on the clock to keep them on task. It took 20 minutes for my scavenger hunt.
- Students return to their seats.
- Demonstrate how to use the document camera.
- Model how to present: face the audience and speak loudly.
- Each group of students presents one or two questions.
- The audience listens and makes any necessary corrections to their own handouts.
You will be surprised at how effective the scavenger hunt is in reinforcing classroom rules and procedures. The students feel confident and successful in their new school, which gets us off to a great school year. I have already had visitors come into my classroom and comment on how well everyone is functioning this early in the year. What classroom procedures do you feel are important to teach?