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5 of the Best First Week of Secondary Resources for Transition into Year 7

Knowing me, knowing you, we're all going to find introductory exercises a little awkward, so we best make them fun and inclusive at least...

  • 5 of the Best First Week of Secondary Resources for Transition into Year 7

We’ve all had to do it. We’ve all sat there in a circle with strangers, waiting nervously until it’s our time to stand up, say our name, and tell everyone an “interesting” fact about ourselves. It’s awful.

Nobody wants to be the person who can’t think of anything good, lest we’re forever labelled as the boring one who could only muster the solitary fact that they once had a cat called Buffy.

Plus, how other people’s names did you miss or have already forgotten while you were frantically exploring your memory for something interesting, funny and not too embarrassing?

It’s hardly any more fun for kids. They’ve gone from being the big fish in their primary school to the little minnows of secondary. There might be a few people they know from primary, but each and every one of them sits there, uneasy and unsure, thinking their new classmates are all so confidently settled already.

So let’s make it a bit easier on them. No more pairing people at random to talk about what they did in the summer holidays. Here are some better ideas to try this September:

1 | Class puzzle

This activity was submitted by Cheryl Pauly at atozteacherstuff.com and is an ideal problem solver to build cooperative learning from day one:

“During the first week of school I have my class complete a puzzle. I cut up a poster-sized piece of paper and give each student a piece. They put their name on it and decorate it however they like, then we put the puzzle together on a bulletin board as a class.”


2 | Breaking the ice

Melissa Martin’s variation on the old ‘getting to know you’ gimmick involves writing cryptic clues about yourself on the board and having students try to work out what each means.

“I write my name in the centre of the board and then surround this with about six or seven names, places, numbers and words connected to me. By asking closed questions, the students have to guess how these words are connected to me, eg “Were you born in Durham?”” The students are motivated by trying to find out more about their teacher and with the challenge of guessing the relevance of all the terms. I try to make some of the terms slightly ambiguous, eg ‘40’ is my German shoe size, not my age, and ‘Queen’ has nothing to do with Elizabeth II, but it is my favourite band.”

Once the students have figured out all the clues, Melissa suggests giving them time to write their own, then putting them into small groups to take turns guessing each other’s.

Check out the full article here.


3 | Two truths and a lie

The idea is to present three ‘facts’ about yourself – two true, one false. If you’ve seen the TV show Would I Lie To You? then you should already be fairly familiar with this concept.

Essentially you want to be presenting two interesting things you’ve done or that have happened to you, and mix in a lie. Obviously, the more outlandish the truths, the better the game is. It provokes more laughs and interesting probing to get conversation rolling.

For example, here are a few of the truths from the aforementioned show that sound like they could easily be made up.

  • Michael McIntyre: For two weeks I drove a car that could only turn left.
  • David Baddiel: I have snogged two of the Spice Girls.
  • Peter Serafinowicz: My voice was passed off as that of Pelé in an advert for impotence.

Anyway, you get the idea, but there’s a lesson plan with a shorter and longer version of the game here.


4 | First maths lesson

Any maths teachers out there looking for ideas, here’s a whole bunch from Jo Morgan (@mathsjem) that will help you set expectations, build students’ confidence and get them excited about maths.

“As students arrive, greet them at your classroom door and hand them a card or sticker with a number on it (I suggest 1-30, but any will work) and tell them to think about the properties of their number. Next, tell students to stand up and hold their card up if they have a multiple of 5. Each student standing up says their name and number in turn. Ask one of the students standing to define the word multiple. Now do the same for various number properties eg ‘stand up if you have a factor of 24’, ‘stand up if you have a prime number’, ‘stand up if you have a square number’ and so on.”


5 | Murder mystery and bank robbery

What better way to start secondary school than with a good old-fashioned murder? A fictional one, of course. The University of Portland’s own Professor Peter Pappas (who may or may not have picked a peck of pickled peppers) came up with these two great activities to get students thinking.

The first is a murder mystery, and the second is a bank robbery, and in each case you have 25-30 clues handed out on single bits of paper. Each group of 5 or 6 students are given a full set of clues, around 4-5 per pupil, which they aren’t allowed to pass around. This way they each have to verbally communicate and participate in order to solve the crime.

Get these resources and Peter’s explanation, instructions and follow-up activities here.

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