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Creating a Community

What an exciting first week we have had in grade 8 here at Howick!  It was so wonderful to be welcomed by a group of students who were both excited and shocked to have me back as their teacher.

Creating a community has been a goal for me in any grade that I have taught whether it is kindergarten, grade 2 or grade 12, and with my grade 8’s this is high on my priority list so that everyone feels welcome and safe in class.  When you set up a successful classroom community it promotes so many different things like positive social skills, and academic achievement. Children of all ages learn best when they feel that they are part of a community, where everyone feels accepted and where individuality is encouraged.

We have been working together this week doing a variety of different activities to foster relationships with our peers.  One of my favourite team building activities is “Key Pad.” In this activity students need to work together, strategize and re-formulate ideas to complete the task in the least amount of time with NO verbal communication, and everyone involved somewhere along the path.  So, far we have one group that is able to complete the task in 26 seconds. Even with 26 seconds this group keeps reworking to figure out a way to get faster and the other groups try to figure out how to catch up to their time.  It is interesting as an educator to look and listen to the different ideas teams have, especially when you have played this game at a teaching workshop. One thing that I love about this activity is that there is no right or wrong way to do go about achieving the goal and everyone seems to have their own creative ideas.

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The next activity that we focused on is one that the students will be finishing in the coming week. The board has a number of character attributes that they follow to promote positive learning in their buildings and within the student population. We created character traits that show the positive attributes  for each other. It has been very interesting to read how each person in the class sees one an other. My class even gave me a list of character traits that describe me. Here are what traits my class thinks I have.

* The image below is a wordle. It makes all the words used and creates a web with the bigger words the ones that are more important or used the most. *

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We are well on our way to creating a class where everyone has the chance to grow and really be who they are. With a few more different activities planned in the next week it is my hope we will start to build a strong community in our room.

While we have talked about being unique and being yourself Mr. Hammer brought up a wonderful quote. This quote has really stuck and I am thinking that it will become our classroom mantra!

” They laugh at me because I am different, I laugh at them because they are all the same” – Kurt Cobain.

– Ms. K


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