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What You Need for Back to School 

Check out these articles on everything from preparing for the first day to dealing with homework woes, coping as a new teacher and ensuring smooth sailing for substitute teachers.

Be sure to explore our 12 volumes of icebreakers and first day of school activities that help students and teachers get to know each other.


Icebreakers Archive | Classroom Icebreaker Activities

Best of the Icebreakers
Volume 1: Tell Me About You Activities
Volume 2: 14 Activities for the First Days of School
Volume 3: Engaging Activities for the First Days of School
Volume 4: Activities for the First Day of School
Volume 5: All-About-You Activities for the First Days of School
Volume 6: Get to Know Your Classmates Activities
Volume 7: Getting to Know One Another
Volume 8: Who's in the Classroom?
Volume 9: My Classmates and Me
Volume 10: Back-to-School Activities
Volume 11: More Fresh Ideas for Opening Day
Volume 12: Excellent Activities for Getting Students Warmed Up




Tools for Teaching: Starting the New School Year
On the first day of school, the first question in students' minds is, "Who are you?" Their second question is, "Who are they?" Students do better in class when they are comfortable, relaxed, and "at home." A very good reason to devote the lion's share of your first class period of the year to creating comfort.

Fun Activities Get the School Year Off to a Good Start!
Every teacher has a different approach to the first few days of school. Whatever your approach, Education World has an activity for you!

A Teacher's Back-to-School Supply List
Each summer, teachers send home a list of supplies students will need during the upcoming school year. Until now, little thought has been given to the supplies teachers might find useful. Noted educator Howard Seeman corrects that oversight with his back-to-school list for the well-equipped teacher. Included: Twenty-seven must-have items.

Scavenger Hunts Fun Way to Introduce Staff
Staff scavenger hunts are a fun way to kick off the year and help new and returning faculty members get better acquainted. Armed with a list of descriptions, staff members "hunt" for a person who matches each item on the list.

Schools Find Many Ways to Say "Welcome Back"
Will open house be before school opens or sometime after students arrive? How about holding an ice cream social? A scavenger hunt for new students? A meet-the-principal lunch? Included: Our P-Files team shares ideas for welcoming students.

Fresh Ideas for Opening Day (Toss Out Those Stale Ideas!)
Have you done the same first-day-of-school activities for years? Are you searching for fresh ideas? This week's five lessons might fill the bill! Included: Students discover their learning strengths, create magnificent works of art, have fun following directions, more!

Back to School Checklist
Are you ready for the first day of school? These twenty Education World resources can take you from the first day to the last.

When All Else Fails, Turn to the Survival Kit!
Though the new school year may seem daunting on the first day, survival kits can help teachers and students feel welcome and inspire them to start the year on a positive note. Ingredients can include bandages, Life Savers, and pennies.

Planning for Your First Day at School
On the first day of school, the secret to success is in the planning, not the pedagogy. Included: Online resources for a variety of back-to-school planning needs, including welcome letters, bulletin board ideas, and back-to-school activities.

Back-to-School Letters and Survival Kits Build Communication
Many teachers and administrators have started introducing themselves to parents and students before school starts. Some have even provide "survival kits," to help students weather the first few days of school. Included: Survival kit samples.

Back-to-School Guide for Beginning Teachers (and Not-So-New Teachers Too)!
Resources for getting your feet on the ground, lesson planning tips, assessment ideas, time and behavior management resources, classroom freebies, technology information, humor, and much more!

The First Days of School: A True Tell-All Book! (An e-Interview with Harry and Rosemary Wong)
Whether you're a nervous neophyte facing your first day of school or a skilled veteran facing another first day of school, The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, by Harry and Rosemary Wong, is a must read.

Back-to-School Resources for Teachers
Could summer break be winding to a close already? Although the calendar still says summer, the first day of school is just days away for many American educators. There is no better time than now to look back at some of the best articles from the Education World archive! Included: Icebreaker activities, classroom management tips, quick activity ideas when you have five minutes to spare, and much more.

Back-to-School Resources for Administrators
It's back-to-school time for principals and school administrators too! Education World has gathered 20 great resources from our archive that offer advice, tips, and resources all principals should have at their fingertips. Included: Fund-raising ideas, recess success resources, parent involvement strategies, and much more.




Party! A Year of Special School Events
Getting parents involved is no easy task. But Education World's "Principal Files" team offers some great ideas for school-wide events that are sure to draw parents in large numbers. Included: More than 30 events to add to your school calendar!

School Book Club Gets Kids and Adults Involved!
Parents at Northwood Elementary get involved in school academics by participating in a school book club that promotes fun and a love of reading. Included: Tips for starting a book club in your school plus resources that describe the benefits of reading!

Back-to-School Technology Activities
Whether you're a technology teacher or a classroom teacher interested in integrating technology, you can challenge and motivate your own students as they succeed with these back-to-school activities from the Education World Tech Team.

Following Directions: A Skill Worth Teaching
No names on papers? No titles on compositions? No answers rounded to the nearest tenth? If you find yourself confronting such problems while grading papers, your students may not be paying attention to directions. Although most successful students recognize the importance of reading instructions thoroughly and following them, some students may master the skill slowly. Education World provides five intriguing lessons to help your students read, write, follow, and even evaluate directions.

25 Ideas for Using Education World Monthly Calendars
Each month, Education World provides a monthly calendar that teachers can use to help students practice essential skills. Regular practice will keep students' skills from getting rusty -- and should improve test scores too!

Whiteboards Stimulate Student Learning
Start with a clean slate this year -- introduce mini-whiteboards to your classroom! Whiteboards are a great way of keeping an entire class actively involved in a lesson. Included: Five whiteboard lessons plus tips from whiteboard users.

Camera Captures School Year
Teacher Martha Richardson includes a disposable camera on her students' supply list for the year -- in return, she gives parents a photographic record of their children's school year. Included: Richardson describes her camera project.

Quick-Tivities for Awkward Moments
So much to do, so little time -- you can't afford to waste a minute. What do you do when every day is interrupted by at least a few transitions that never seem to fit into the natural rhythm of your lessons? Use one of these valuable mini lessons!

Templates for Teachers
Are you spending your evenings writing welcome letters to parents, creating calendars, ruling seating charts, designing award certificates, and stenciling learning center signs? Did you know all those printable documents are available online at the click of a mouse?

Ten Games for Classroom Fun!
Do you need ideas for occupying students during the last ten minutes of a busy day? Perhaps you want to reward kids at the end of a particularly productive day. These ten games are great for end-of-the-day fun.

Timelines: Timeless Teaching Tool
Across the grades and across the curriculum, teachers treasure the value of timelines -- and all the timeline resources you'll need are right at your fingertips! Create a timeline of the events that make up your whole school year! Included: Activity ideas for all grades!

'Every Day' Activities Across the Curriculum
"Every day" reinforcement of basic reading, listening, math, vocabulary, and geography skills can go a long way toward ensuring that kids learn and retain the skills you teach. Included: Two dozen Web sites offer perfect resources for developing daily activities!

A Quotation a Day: Just What the Language Doctor Ordered!
Many teachers have discovered the power of famous quotations. Such quotations can be used to develop students' writing and critical thinking skills. Included: "Why use quotations?" plus a quotation a day for 180 days of school.
Buy the book of worksheets to accompany this article.

Don't Waste a Minute!
What do you do with those awkward moments that arise in every teacher's day? Try some mini lessons, quick activities that fill time without wasting it! Included: Dozens of mini lessons to keep kids busy and learning every minute of the day!

Playground Pass Creates Recess Success!
Wouldn't you love a simple, straightforward teaching tool that steers students away from trouble and into recess success? The Playground Pass does just that. Included: Links to the reproducible Playground Pass system and other free resources.

Your Search for Bulletin Board Ideas Is Over!
Three educators who searched for bulletin board ideas on the Web and found little have solved the problem for the rest of us! They have created useful bulletin board resources on the Net. Included: Links to ten bulletin board resources.

25 Activities to Make Every Day Read In! Day
Keep students reading all year long with a variety of reading-related activities from Education World. Included: 25 activities to encourage kids of all ages to read for learning and for fun.

Journal Writing Every Day: Teachers Say It Really Works
One of the best things about daily journal writing is that it can take so many forms. This week, Education World talked with teachers who use daily journal writing in their classrooms. Included: Writing motivators that work from teachers who use them!




Students Rule With 'Design Your Own Homework'
"I started by sending home a letter to parents at the beginning of school explaining that students could bring in their own homework projects," said teacher Valerie Grimes. Included: Learn more about the types of assignments Grimes's students have selected!

Put an End to Homework Horror!
If your students lack interest in your homework assignments, it may not be your students -- it may be the assignments! Author Nancy Paulu has some advice for teachers who want to make the most out of homework. Included: Links to school homework policies.

Help for Homework Hassles!
How can teachers motivate students to do their homework? How should teachers handle kids who just don't care? This week, Education World explores ways to ease homework hassles!

Homework: A Place for Rousing Reform
Educator Brenda Dyck reflects on a year in which she and her colleagues (begrudgingly, at first) came to a new understanding about the value and relevance of homework assignments. Learn how they tamed the homework beast!

Help! Homework Is Wrecking My Home Life!
Just how much homework is too much? Education World interviews teachers and the top experts -- including Howard Gardner, Carol Huntsinger, and Harris Cooper -- to find out.

The Homework Dilemma: How Much Should Parents Get Involved?
Just what kind of parental involvement -- and how much involvement -- truly helps children with their homework?

Homework Takes a Hit!
In an Education World e-interview, John Buell, co-author of The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning, makes a case for ending homework as we know it!



First Year Teacher's Primer
Humor, connections and self-reflection go a long way in ensuring that you'll have a great year! These tips from a veteran educator and teacher trainer are also good reminders for teachers who are well beyond their first year.

Sites to See: New Teacher Resources
The flurry of preparation and planning that comes with the start of a new school year can be a source of stress, especially for beginning teachers. This week, find a remedy to those opening day jitters; some of the best resources for beginning teachers -- and vets too!

Induction Programs Help Keep Better Teachers
Educator-author Annette Breaux talks about the Framework for Inducting, Retaining, and Supporting Teachers (FIRST), a new teacher induction program that has reduced her school system's teacher attrition rate by 80 percent.

Sites to See: New Teacher Resources
The flurry of preparation and planning that comes with the start of a new school year can be a source of stress, especially for beginning teachers. This week, find a remedy to those opening day jitters; some of the best resources for beginning teachers -- and vets too!

Advice for First-Year Teachers -- From the Principals Who Hired Them!
Most principals were teachers too. Once upon a time they were even first-year teachers! Since becoming principals, they've had the opportunity to observe many first-year teachers -- and to see many of those teachers make many of the same mistakes.

'How To' Books for First-Year Teachers
Last year, Lynne Rominger, a fledgling high school English teacher, longed for a manual to guide her through her first year teaching -- so she co-wrote Your First Year As a High School Teacher and Your First Year As an Elementary School Teacher.

Advice for First-Year Teachers -- from the 'Sophomores' Who Survived Last Year!
Education World asked the "sophomores" who faced -- and survived -- that dreaded first year to reflect on their successes and failures. First-year teachers, here is their best advice for getting through it.




Lessons to Leave Behind When You Go Away
Every teacher has the responsibility to provide a sure-fire, successful plan for the substitute who will bravely step into his or her shoes. Included: Five lessons that span the grades, require few materials, and make learning fun.

Sub Station: Tips and Resources for Substitute Teachers
Looking for a quick lesson that can be used anytime, anywhere? Need something to fill those ten minutes before the lunch bell? Want to add some games to your bag of tricks? We've got the resources you need!

Substitute Survival: Tools You Can Use
Education World offers a Substitute Survival Kit. Included: Songs, games, lesson activities, and templates to help a sub survive even the most difficult experience.

Substitute Survival: Mini Lessons for Unexpected Moments
Whether you are a substitute teacher or a permanent classroom teacher, these lessons are for you! Included: Ten great activities for substitutes and classroom teachers.

Substitute Teachers Gain National Voice
Shirley Kirsten, president of the year-old National Substitute Teachers Alliance (NSTA), tells Education World that the demand for substitute teachers is increasing and the pressures on them are growing. Included: Benefits and drawbacks of substitute teaching.

Four Rules to Keep Your Best Subs Coming Back
Learn what schools can do to guarantee the highest quality education possible in the absence of the permanent classroom teacher. Included: Four rules to help keep your best subs coming back and tips for recognizing the contributions of your school's substitutes!




The Perfect Teacher
Linda Mauriello, who teaches at Salem High School in Conyers, Georgia, submitted this week's lesson, which offers a fun activity that will help teachers drive home the concepts of mutual respect and high expectations. (Grades 9-12)

Faces Bingo
Laura E. Lambert, who teaches at Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio, submitted this week's lesson in which students match classmates' name cards with their pictures on a bulletin board. (Grades K-2)

WebQuest: My Five Senses
The science teacher at your school is preparing a unit on the five senses. He wants to start with the most important sense, but he can't decide which one that should be. Students choose which of the five senses they think is most important and complete a book about the five senses.

El Juego que Aprende: The Learning Game
When LaToya Maker, president of Teach Me Toys.com, learned that Hispanics make up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population and 17 percent of the public school enrollment, she asked designers to create a game to teach kids about Hispanic heritage.

Voice of Experience: A New Spin On Back-to-School Night
As educators re-examine the purpose, relevance, and appeal of Back-to-School Night, Brenda Dyck describes a new model where students take the lead and adults step back and follow. Included: Ideas for planning a student-led Back-to-School Night.

The Essential 55: Rules for a Lifetime
Ron Clark, the author of The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child, discusses his classroom rules and the philosophy behind them

Principal Goes Door to Door With Back-to-School Message
Tired of low student turnouts on the first few days of school, Hartford, Connecticut, principal Dr. Robert E. Morris decided to remind parents about the opening of school. In person. Staff and community members joined Morris walking door-to-door.

Learning Geography Through E-Mail
A month ago, some students werent even sure where to find Arizona on a map of the United States. Now they can find Australia, Korea, and even Azerbaijan on a map of the world, thanks to an e-mail activity that made geography come alive for both students and parents."

Class Rules Smooth Way for the Year
Rules in School, a book from the Northeast Foundation for Children, tells teachers how they can regain instructional time during the school year by helping students develop class rules and consequences at the beginning of the year.

A Smooth Transition Can Mean a Smooth Year
With researchers finding that successful transition programs can mean more successful students, sending and receiving schools are working harder and more cooperatively to help students more easily make the passage from one school to the next.

First-Day-of-School Activity: The Kissing Hand
Teachers Amanda Dobson submitted this week's lesson, which uses a popular children's book to help alleviate young students' first-day-of-school jitters. (Grades pre-K-2)

Retreat, Review, Recharge!
Retreats can be the perfect way to re-energize faculty, flesh out new programs, and help people get to know one another better. While getting away is a treat, some creative activities also can make an in-house retreat productive and fun.

Great Starts: Veteran Principals Offer Opening Day Tips
Are you a first-year principal? A veteran with many years under your belt? Doesn't matter! All principals will learn a thing or two from this article about making the first day of the new school year a smooth one. Included: Tips for a great first day!

In a Million Words or Fewer...
A simple activity offers a powerful tool for learning about your students and connecting with their parents. "I was suddenly a part of each child's life," teacher Trisha Fogarty said.

I Was There When High School Research Papers Came Alive
Want an assignment that has students lining up at six in the morning -- by choice? Clearwater (Kansas) High School English teacher Ernie Beachey's 11th graders research and create an original work of American historical fiction.

'Paper Swap' Strategy Helps Students Learn
English teacher Suzanne L. Schmitt shares a win-win strategy that allows students a chance to turn in a paper, participate in a quick review, and then swap that paper with a revision that improves on the first and may even mean a higher grade.

Organize a "Literature Day" (and Night!) at Your School
Teachers at Westwood Elementary School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, organized a Literature Day (and Night) in their school. Included: Activity ideas and tips for organizing your own literature event!

'Sustained Silent Reading' Helps Develop Independent Readers (and Writers)
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) -- or DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), as some people call it -- can be one more tool for developing lifelong readers.

Every School Should Have a Playground Map!
Playground maps are great teaching tools! Thanks to Ed Bonne, "the Playground Map Guy," many kids will find a new addition to their playgrounds when school opens in a few weeks.

A Beginner's Guide to Integrating Technology
Whether you are a student teacher or a veteran teacher, this article provides ideas you can use to assess where you are and to plan for the future. Included: Six steps for integrating technology painlessly.

Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) Pays Big Dividends!
Teacher William Marson shares his success in motivating sixth-graders to read using a program he calls Reading for Fun (RFF). Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) improves students' attitudes toward reading.

Better Book Reports -- 25 Ideas!
Tired of the same old book report formats? Do your students grumble every time you mention the words book reports? Included: 25 ideas for spicing up boring book reports.

99 Ways to Say 'Very Good'
CareerLab, a "career strategy and human capital management firm," generously granted Education World permission to reprint 99 Ways to Say 'Very Good,' by Arzella Dirksen.

How Can Teachers Help Shy Students?
Shyness expert Lynne Kelly recently talked to Education World about how classroom teachers can better understand and help shy students. Included: Eight tips for helping students overcome shyness.

Competition Increases Student Reading
"The Book Bowl makes a sport of reading!" said Bill Derry, supervisor of library media services in New Haven, Connecticut. Find out how this competition sparks students to read more. Included: Tips for starting a Book Bowl in your community!

Reading Aloud -- Is It Worth It?
Many teachers believe reading aloud enhances classroom instruction and improves academic achievement -- and recent research supports their belief. Included: Education World talks with Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook.

How to Thrive -- Not Just Survive -- in a One-Computer Classroom
Education World explores strategies experienced teachers use to help them turn their one computer into a dynamic, creative teaching tool.

A Dozen Activities to Promote Parent Involvement!
Research shows that children are more likely to succeed academically and are less likely to engage in violent behavior if their families are involved in their education. Included: A dozen activities to promote parental involvement and ten tips for involved parents.

Reading Aloud -- Are Students Ever Too Old?
Do you read aloud to your students? Is there ever a time when students are too old to be read to? Many teachers are firm believers in reading aloud -- even at the high school and college levels!

Getting Started on the Internet: Add Your Name to a Listserv -- Today!
Every teacher should join a listserv. Listservs offer a quick and easy way to connect with teachers around the world. Included: Links to hundreds of listservs for educators.

Students Reach for the 'Skylights' of Learning
Educator Brenda Dyck writes about her efforts to challenge students to use more thinking skills at the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Included: A bulletin board in Dyck's classroom reminds students of the higher-level thinking skills they should strive to use!

The School Day: It's Not a Race; Let's Change the Pace!
In his latest book, Time to Teach, Time to Learn, Chip Wood takes a serious look at the frenetic pace of teaching and learning. He offers dozens of suggestions for refocusing on what's really important during the school day.

Fab Friday: Fun and Games That Make a Difference!
Three Fridays each year, Freeport (Maine) Middle School closes its textbooks and opens its doors to a different kind of learning. Students and teachers share exciting "Fab Friday" hobbies and activities and in the process learn to see one another in a whole new light.

Get Ready to Integrate Technology: Ten Tips!
The members of the Education World Tech Team offer advice to help your school take advantage of technology in the coming year. Included: Top ten list of tips to help you expand the ways you use technology.

Increase Parent Involvement With First Day of School Activities
Read about how schools across the nation -- in urban, rural, and suburban areas -- are breaking down barriers with parents and their communities by making the first day of school an exciting holiday with special activities that include everyone!

Establish a Computer Club: Big Benefits for Students and Staff
If you have thought about creating a computer club or Web club in your school, do not delay! Included: Teacher Marcia Cousins explains how her school's computer club comes to the aid of students, teachers, and the community!

Fund-Raising Ideas: Raise Money Without Selling Door-to-Door
How far would you go to raise needed funds? Would you kiss a pig? Organize a game of cow chip bingo? Paint Pepsi on your school roof? Some school districts are discovering -- or creating -- new ways to raise money.

School Bus Discipline: Solving the Problem
Is school bus discipline a problem in your school? Two school bus discipline policies available on the Web might serve as effective models.

Computer Rules Prevent Problems!
Student computer use often involves situations not covered by regular classroom rules -- and the rules those situations require might not occur to you ahead of time. Education World's Tech Team members share their rules with you.

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Last updated 9/19/16

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