Appendix D – Activities

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How well do you know your students? Here are some simple activities to find out.

Student List

Write a list of the names of all of your students from memory. No cheating. Can you list them all? Who did you forget? It’s usually either a well-behaved, average child who clearly needs some attention from you, or it’s a socially disconnected child who you couldn’t remember because you recalled students in groups of friends.


Simple Sociogram

Ask your students to put their names on the backs of pieces of paper. On the front have them write the answer to one of the following…

  • Who is your best friend in this class? Your second best friend?
  • Who do you want to work with on this project? Second choice?

Now draw a diagram of the results. I usually only diagram their first choice answers. Diagram each child’s name into an oval. Draw a line with an arrow to their best friend or person they most want to work with. The diagram will differ, depending on which question you ask.

Some results will be predictable. Best friends point to each other. Other children connect in long chains in order of increasing isolation. Some results have surprised me. A quiet, but gifted student in one class had twelve arrows pointed at him. Twelve! At least I knew that if he agreed to an idea, the rest of the class would follow. Finally, some results sadden. Occasionally, a student will be completely unable to name a friend or partner. So that oval sits on the sociogram isolated and alone, exactly like the child in class. If you have a counselor, refer this child. At the very least, he or she needs help with social skills.

Sociograms can be helpful not only for understanding your class dynamics, but also for making teams that have to be highly compatible for long-term projects. I did, however, have to tell that one class that there was no way I could split Mengyao into several parts. Only one team got to have him.

Name Game

My classes play this game on the first day of school and occasionally thereafter. I made it up to help me learn names so I could stop paying out so much for goofing up. It turned out to be so much fun, and require so much strategy, that students beg for it.

  1. Everyone stands up and holds up three fingers.
  2. The teacher says a name.
  3. That student puts down a finger and says someone else’s name.
  4. That student puts down a finger and says someone else’s name.
  5. Repeat until someone puts down all three fingers. That student sits down and says one last name.
  6. Repeat until only five students are standing. Apparently, no one knows their names. They win.
  7. Winners come to the front of the room, get a Hershey’s Kiss or some other tiny prize, and get dramatically introduced to the class with the following words, “Class, this is Monica. Memorize her name and make sure she never wins again.”

Other rules:

  • No call-backs. You can’t name the person who named you.
  • If you’re standing, stand. If you’re sitting, sit. No half-standing or hiding to fake everyone out.


  • Teacher plays: The teacher counts as one of the five left standing because the students forgot to call his or her name three times.
  • 5-second rule: Students who take forever to call a name lose their chance and the teacher calls a name instead.
  • 3-minute limit: We only have three minutes before the bell rings so the game has to finish or there are no winners at all.
  • No coaching rule: If you get caught making naming suggestions, you have to put a finger down, and the teacher brings a lot of attention to you, making it more likely that you’ll get called.

This game turns out to be a quiet spectacle as best friends quickly realize that calling on each other is a bad thing, some students stand still as stones hoping nobody notices them, and a few are about to burst because as the end of the game nears, no one has noticed that they still have three fingers up.


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