I have included many of these activities on opening day, but I learned some new icebreakers after reading this article. I really liked the critical thinking one called "I am NOT" because it gives students an incentive to reflect on themselves and be open to their classmates. I would have this be a homework assignment so that students have more time to do it. I have also engaged my students in musical chairs - which they loved! The opening day letter is effective as well.
Superb! I love the ideas on this site. You can click on the topic that best serves your position; however, I selected the one for "personalizing the secondary classroom" and it had fantastic strategies! I cannot say enough about this site…really, it has everything you need to know to begin a great school year :)
This site has activities that can be adapted to multiple levels and grades. On the secondary level, I would use the left brain/right brain activity and the learning style inventories (but abbreviate/shorten each one). Students like to take surveys and learn about themselves, so you could use the ideas on this site to help stimulate their attention during the first week of school.
Although this article is written for the college level, it has several valid suggestions for all teachers trying to build a culture of respect and community in his/her classroom. Its eight objectives ranging from orchestrating positive first impressions to whetting students' appetites for the course's content are excellent.
I like the strategy of asking students questions on the first day of class. Some students may hesitate in responding, but eventually they will open up. If you set a tone of respect and show that you value all students' voices, then students will share.
If you are a veteran teacher, you are probably able to sense students' fear or lack of motivation right away on the first day. If you are a new teacher, be sure that you are sensitive to students' sense of privacy when thinking about an opening activity. The suggestions on this site are very good; choose the one that works best based on your knowledge of students and your own personality and practice.
Since most students are competitive on some level or topic, this trivia quiz is a fun way to involve even your quiet or shy student. The questions are not necessarily difficult, but they remind students that we don't notice simple things in our world. Attention to detail can be very important in life -- thus, by giving this survey, you are drawing out the students and teaching them!