It's no surprise that ‘all about me' is a common theme when our classroom doors open up. After all, a fresh new school year means meeting new peers–which lends itself to a lot of icebreakers, getting to know you activities, and the standard “all about me” activities. It's all fun, but what if we give our tired all about me theme an upgrade?
Upgrade #1: Your All About Me Theme is Too Superficial (Go Deeper)
Here's an idea: Let's go beyond the basics of outward traits like hair color or basic facts like favorite color (although the younger the kids, the more simple the focus—-consider keeping these for Kindergarten and younger).
Here are some all about me topics that will get your students thinking, laughing, and maybe even a little bit uncomfortable. But that's okay! It's all part of the learning process.
– What is your biggest fear?
– What is your most embarrassing moment?
– What is your favorite memory?
– What are three things that you would take with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
– If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
– What is your dream job?
– What is the best/worst advice you've ever received?
– Who is your biggest role model?
P.S. All of these all about me question slides are included in my Back-to-School Survival Kit
Upgrade #2: Your All About Me Theme Is Too Short-Lived (Go All Year)
While it seems like an obvious back to school theme, learning all about each other is actually a great way to get to know your students and build relationships all year long. Here are some ideas for how to keep the all about me theme going all year long.
–Get to know their interests: As you learn more about your students, take note of their interests and try to incorporate them into class as much as possible. If they love animals, find ways to work pets into class discussions and activities. If they're interested in a certain hobby, see if you can use it as a way to teach a new concept.
–Check in regularly: Whether it's through one-on-one conversations or quick surveys, checking in with your students on how they're doing is a great way to get to know them better. Not only will you be able to learn about what's going on in their lives, but you'll also be able to provide support and build trust. A great time to do this is by using a specific share question or topic during your morning meetings (like this one below):
–Make it a team effort: Learning all about each other doesn't have to be all on the teacher. Encourage your students to ask each other questions and share their own stories. You might be surprised at how much they have in common. A cool way to encourage this is to offer a fun incentive. I played a game called Peeramid with my class. Every week I would post 5 new questions. Students would spend the week trying to find the answers from as many peers as possible. On Friday, I'd choose one student to be our peer. The rest of the students would answer the weekly questions about the chosen peer. The student with the most correct answers would earn a prize. And if you're looking for more back to school themes and activities, be sure to check out my blog post about 100 steps to a great year.
Upgrade #3: Your All About Me Theme Is Not Personalized Enough (Take Photos!)
Take photos of each student as early in the year as you can. Taking photos on the first day can be tough, so if you can swing it, send a note home asking for parents to snap a photo of their child looking at the camera with a plain background. You can also consider finding kids at recess the first week and taking photos then, or have a photo booth set up at Meet the Teacher night.
The point is, you'll want these photos. First, let's talk about how you can use the photos during your all about me theme or unit. You can:
-Create a photo all about me book
-Make a giant all about me poster
-Use the photos in a Get to know you PowerPoint or Google Slide presentation. (You could even give students their own version of a bubble presentation like I prefer to do at Back to School Night).
And then of course you can use these student photos all year long:
-In your classroom calendar
-On student name tags or desk plates
-Use photos on your math or literacy station partner chart
-As part of an all about the author page for writing workshop
-To make an all about me bulletin board (you could even add student work to this throughout the year)
No matter how you choose to use them, this is just the beginning! I've got an entire blog post with all sorts of ideas for how to use student photos. You can check it out here.