A school year often starts by getting acquainted with new students. You may know nothing about them except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. Often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t very accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get a record containing a current evaluation and the last progress report.
I love when parents have kept all the paperwork and can give you updated paperwork from the previous school. In some cases, technology has improved the ability to get current records by linking records across schools. Sometimes it takes weeks before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out what your students need so you can form your schedule and help teachers meet the needs in their classrooms.
To start out the new year, I usually take out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and gives you an idea of where to start with them in the coming year. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you often find at Target, The Dollar Store, Walmart, or any party favors section of a store. You could also use a dice or spinner with numbers.
I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.
You then have them help you write questions and number them. Here are some examples: 1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?
I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6.
Students take turns throwing the ball at the target and answering the questions according to the area hit. Fellow students are then asked to think up a follow up question according to the answer and topic.
I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.
I hope you have a good beginning to your new school year.