Building a Class Community Through Project Based Learning
It's the beginning of the school year and your goal is to create a positive atmosphere and community in your classroom. It's important to set the tone at the beginning of the year so your class meetings go well, your students work productively in collaborative groups, and your students can resolve conflicts.
So, why don't you begin the year with a Project Based Learning unit that helps solve your worries. Through project based learning, students learn how to cooperate and collaborate, problem solve, and communicate. All of these are important skills your students need throughout their lives.
Here are a few tips and ideas for building your class community through Project Based Learning:
1. Create an Avatar
This activity allows students to learn about their classmates and how they represent themselves. There are different apps and websites for creating avatars. I used a simple website that lets you choose your gender, hair, eyes, lips, nose, and clothes. I thought AvatarMaker got pretty close. After creating the avatar, students can import the image into a word document or glue on construction paper. Then, add words that describes the student. The words can be written or typed in fun colors and fonts. Students can go around and guess who the avatar represents. These avatars can be used on name tags and used with activities throughout the year. This activity is a great way for students to get to know each other and how they represent themselves.
2. Google Map Scavenger Hunt
Students can learn how their classmates spent their summer. I've blogged about using Google maps in an earlier post. Students can enter a landmark they visited during the summer. It can be a landmark from a vacation or one located in his or her city. Then, students enter the url from Google Maps, and create a QR code. The QR Codes can be placed around the classroom for students to visit. Students can even work in collaborative groups to decide on their ideal vacation destination. Then, do the same with the the QR codes.
Other community building activities include developing your class motto, brainstorming different community or school service projects, and activities in which your students see what they have in common. (I Have...Who Has... or Find Someone Who Has...)
3. Back to School Snow Cone Party
As a culminating activity in the unit, your students can plan a Back to School Snow Cone party. They can plan on what and how much they need to purchase and invitations or e-vites. Believe it or not, it is not expensive to host a snow cone party. There are other factors that can be included like posters and brochures about the school. Veteran students can even volunteer as guides for new students.
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