Using the Standards to Get to Know My Class

My first few weeks have been filled with a lot of activities designed to get to know my students both as people AND as learners.  I have done some really simple things, like have the students fill out a quick survey for me to give me some insight into who they are as kids, but most of what I have done is rooted in the standards in some way.  You see, just because we are in the "honeymoon phase" doesn't mean the standards take a back seat in our learning.  So I wanted to share a few of the standards-based activities that we have been doing in our room that have helped the students to learn a bit more about each other, but also get a kick start on the huge amount of standards we need to learn this year.

If you read my blog at all, you know how much I love The Important Book .  I use is all.the.time.  It is just a great, great book that can be applied to so many different things.  So we started off the year reading this fast read and discussed what makes our own selves so important and unique.  The students began by creating a circle map of the most unique and mundane qualities they possessed.   Then, using a poetry frame, the students constructed simple sentences using those qualities. (you can pick up the poetry frame here.)  After a brief lesson on extended sentences (a nice 5th grade standard), we went back in and revised, looking for ways to extend our poem even more, while still keeping within the context of the book.  When it was all said and done, the final draft was mounted on a background of images and words from magazines that the students cut out and glued collage style.

This is an old pic, but you get the idea!
We also got into writing paragraphs with our good old Strengths and Weaknesses activity.  I had the students think about those things that they feel are strengths they have as a learner, and then those things that fall more on the weakness side.  Using our paragraph writing frames (Paragraph of the Week style!) each of the students constructed basic paragraphs with simple extended sentences and a clear, coherent topic sentence.  Once the writing process was done, I took each student's picture with the handle of the broom held above their heads, gave them some barbell shaped paper and they wrote their final draft.  I simply adore this one.  The kids LOVE it and it makes such a great display.  It is available in full detail in my Goals Pack here. (along with some other really fun goal setting activities!)

Another great activity actually came from my dear friend Jen at Runde's Room.  She posted (forever ago!) about doing a 100% Me activity and I knew it was for me.  The students write a poem in which they describe their character traits, giving each a percentage.  When all the traits are added up, they equal 100%!  The students needed to include at least two decimal percentages (since that is the standard we are beginning the year with.)   Then, the students created pie graphs to display their character traits, using the percentages to break up the circle.  This was a great visual representation of the poem and mixed a little math with writing!  You can pick up this gem in Jen's store for free here.

So there you have it!  Some fun, simple, STANDARDS BASED activities that you can use to get your students started on the right foot in your classroom.  What are some things that you have done in the past that hit the key standards you are trying to teach right off the bat?


  1. These are terrific, Stephanie!! I also LOOOOVE The Important Book & use it in every subject!! Even my struggling writers sound lyrical and knowledgeable when using that frame! And I love the barbell image and percentages idea! Thanks for sharing!


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