Try these Reflect and Share Cards with Your Students
Students are starting to trickle back into the classroom. For many, they haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in over a year. My son, for instance, spent the entire school year at home. He starts school in less than a week, and I’m curious to see how he adjusts to spending the day in a classroom with peers.
My son is very social. He has no problem introducing and interacting with peers. At the community pool, he will jump into a game and not care how much older or younger the kids are. He’s ready to socialize. I foresee many emails from teachers in the future regarding my son being social in the classroom. I apologize in advance.
Benefits of Building Rapport
Not all students are this way. I suspect as the year begins it will take many students to warm up and get comfortable with their peers. This makes classroom rapport something that teachers should be focused on. While the “learning gap” has been a major topic of conversation since the pandemic started, teachers know that if students trust each other learning happens more efficiently.
Reflect and Share Cards is an activity that I enjoy doing the first week of classes. This strategy gets students writing and talking. It also establishes the expectation that writing is a process. I have used this with all levels of high school from AP to standard to the elective classes that I’ve taught like Creative Writing. It is always a hit. I’ve never taught middle school, but I do believe it would work well with that age group as well.
Reflect and Share Cards Activity
To start, students are given five (5) notecards. I like to use big notecards (5 by 7). This gives the students room to flesh out their thoughts. If you have different colored cards, even better. If not, simply hand the students their cards and ask them to number them from 1 to 5.
The first card asks students to list topics of importance to them. I like to have them think in categories: important people, places, and events. They can also add topics they are deeply interested in or are experts on. Before you scoff about kids being experts on a topic, trust me, they are. Some have a vast knowledge of video games, pop culture, music, etc. Please don’t discount this about young people.
After about 3 minutes of silently listing, they share their list with a partner. This person is their partner for the entire activity. After they share their list with their peer, they might want to add some things to their list. Give them about 1 minute to do this.
They then move on to card 2. On this card, they choose something from their list and write about it. They write for 3-4 minutes, then share. On the next card, they do the same. They can start on a new topic, or continue with the same topic. Maybe they change the point of view. With each card, their partner asks them a question.
I like to project the directions and prompts to help keep the students focused.
After they have completed all five cards, they choose one card to revise and polish. This polished version is what you collect. The revision activity can be one that you work on in class the following day after a brief overview of your expectations. Maybe you want to review MLA formatting or basic paragraph structure. If you teach creative writing, this is a great activity to introduce the personal essay.
I love watching this activity unfold. When the students are sharing their cards, I walk around and listen. It’s great to see how open and earnest they are with their peers. By the end of the activity, they have made an acquaintance they feel connected to which helps to kick off the community building. If you have your students journal, which I highly recommend, their topic card can be taped into their notebooks for reference. Now they have a list of important topics they can refer back to when they are stuck.
Want to try this activity with your students? You can purchase everything you need here. Just download and go. Don’t forget the notecards!
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