This introductory exercise for highschool college students works
Middle and high school students are complex beings. They are “so over” with the cute elementary school activities, but they still secretly hope that their teachers will want to get to know them in a creative and, above all, not “grind” way in the first important weeks. This high school student get-to-know activity does the trick:
Make middle and high school students feel welcome
As a high school teacher, my main goal is to create a classroom in the first week of school where students feel welcome, wanted, and ready to try new and challenging things. I want you to treat me, your colleagues, and yourself with respect and care. Because of this, I always keep three goals in mind when planning any early activity.
- Does this give my students the opportunity to use their own unique voice?
- Does this give me the chance to really experience who these children are and what is important to them?
- How can I make this a meaningful activity to refer back to after completion?
Provide students with practical tools for their work
With these goals in mind, choosing activities and the tools to accomplish them can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are some amazing resources that can help you out. In fact, Adobe Spark is perfect for teachers looking for ways to get to know their students. Free for educators, the app allows students and teachers to easily create professional-looking projects that they can share in person or remotely. The students can bring their own personality and creativity to projects. Learning to design with Adobe gives students a digital tool to add to their resumes. Adobe Spark is a particularly helpful tool for middle and high school teachers because it works seamlessly with these commonly used programs: Google Classroom, Blackboard, Canvas, Clever, Classlink, Flipgrid, Wakelet, Book Creator, Microsoft Teams, and OneNote.
Let students shine by giving them the opportunity to share their identities
A basic get-to-know activity is a great way to meet our initial back-to-school goals, but we can make the project so much more meaningful. When we ask better questions and give students a choice of what the project should look like and what questions they want to answer, we give them freedom within the boundaries. Here’s the perfect way to do this with Adobe Spark: Send students to this All About Me poster and ask them to create a poster that shows their identity by customizing the text, shapes, and design.
Customize the template to get your students here:
Let teenagers choose what to share
While you want to make some of the questions mandatory, others should be left to them. They may not tell you anything they are proud of, but they will share their favorite TikTok accounts. Here are some questions you could ask them to try:
- What name would you like to have in class?
- Favorite TikTok or YouTube account and why.
- Think of the best teacher you have ever had. What did she do great?
- Which three things are really important to you?
- How can a person tell if you are angry / frustrated?
- How can a person tell if you are happy / proud?
- Who lives at your home? (Pets count!)
- What is your favorite technique in school?
- If you were the teacher how would your class be different / better?
- What is one thing that you want teachers to understand?
- Share one of your “est” moments … proudest, scariest, funniest, etc.
- What’s the strangest food you’ve ever tried? Do you like that?
- What should a teacher never do if they want to get along with you this year?
- What is the most valuable thing that someone has ever told you / that you have ever read?
- How do you feel about working with partners / groups?
While your students are working, you will have time to share and chat with them. This informal setting is perfect for getting to know the students and encouraging them to be comfortable with you. Ask the questions they want to answer, comment on their design decisions, and praise them for fixing issues. These are the types of interactions that create trusting, positive relationships with your students.
Reflect and celebrate your work and diversity
These posters can be printed out and displayed in the room. Make sure to let students know in advance if this is your plan. Give students a chance to walk through the gallery and look at each other’s posters on the walls or on different computer screens. Allowing them to see each other’s work creates the sense of camaraderie we all want in our classrooms. If continuous ads aren’t an option, consider a slideshow. Adobe Spark works great with Google Slides and PowerPoint. Allow students to discuss one or two of their answers (again, their choice). Seeing what they want to talk about will give you an idea of what motivates each student. Often refer to these posters when checking in with students to make sure they feel seen.
Adobe Spark is an incredibly versatile learning tool
Check out these great lessons to find even more creative ways to empower your middle and high school students to get creative and express themselves. And since we know that timely, meaningful feedback is one of the most powerful teaching tools we have, see how Adobe can make providing feedback easier and faster!