Whether you're a beginning teacher walking into your classroom for the first time or a veteran teacher unpacking years worth of supplies, a new school year offers an untouched realm of excitement and possibilities. Your classroom environment is the foundation for all the learning that will take place over the next 10 months. Amid hours spent organizing furniture, putting up bulletin boards, and writing lessons, don't forget to set aside time for an important part of your classroom: creating a culture of kindness, respect, and responsibility among your students. This year, go beyond getting-to-know-you activities and incorporate these five experiences that continue classroom camaraderie throughout the year.
Epic is a digital warehouse of more than 10,000 books and videos for students to enjoy. This platform is web- and app-based and offers many options for students and teachers including badges, reading stats, read-to-me books, and more. In addition to promoting literacy, this resource is free for any elementary school teacher in the U.S. or Canada.
Younger students may enjoy reading Freda Say Please by Stuart J. Murphy, a whimsical story illustrating the need to use manners when asking peers to do various tasks. In In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen and Brian Harrison-Lever, the story showcases higher-level vocabulary and symbolism for older students as they read about an act of kindness during World War I. With an easy-to-use search feature, this resource will engage all students in grades pre-K–5.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
The Random Acts of Kindness website is jam-packed with ideas for integrating kindness in and out of the classroom. With a complete line of K-12 lesson plans and downloadable resources, you will have plenty of project ideas and conversation starters with the click of a button. This free website also includes ways to create a Kindness Club in your school as well as book lists and tips for conflict resolution. You can even subscribe to their monthly blog that includes additional ideas for promoting kindness and caring among students.
Looking for creative ways to decorate your classroom? How about inviting students to create their own posters emphasizing key traits such as gratitude, respect, and integrity? Websites such as Google Slides, Canva, and Glogster offer unlimited possibilities for student-created displays that can be printed or shared online. Students can work in collaborative groups to design a class logo or create posters showcasing examples of character traits.
Students love to share stories about themselves. Turn digital writing into a global sharing experience as students write about positive things that happen in the classroom. Platforms such as Blogger, Edublogs, WordPress, or Kidblog are great options for students to showcase their writing skills and practice the art of positive feedback as they leave comments on stories for classmates. Promoting digital citizenship skills with positive rapport is a win-win for students and teachers.
The Great Kindness Challenge
Can you complete 50 acts of kindness in a week? Join the Great Kindness Challenge as you and your students work together to make this world a brighter place to live, work, and play. Students will enjoy downloading the app for their iPhone or iPad and checking off items on their list. This year's event will take place January 23-27, 2017, so mark your calendars now.
A new school year means new beginnings! Celebrate the positive all year long as you support your students with exemplary social skills as well as academic learning.