Class Building that Integrates Content

I think all teachers desire for their classrooms to be a cohesive community. I mean, why wouldn't you want it to be? You and your students spend a LOT of time with one another, wouldn't you want it to be a pleasant experience?
One of the BEST ways to build community in the classroom is through class building activities. I know what you're thinking, "Yes, I do lots of class building during the first week or so of school!" That's great, and don't change that, but research says that teachers should plan to include at least two class building activities a week for the WHOLE school year. That's a lot of class building.

When I first read this my mind was spinning. How in the world am I supposed to fit two class building activities into out already break neck speed schedule? There was only one way to go, and that was to integrate our content into the class building activities, so that is exactly what I did.

At first it seemed daunting, and as though it was going to take a ton of prep, but then we got into a rhythm, that honestly required NO extra work on my part, but had my students doing the three essential things that class building requires.
1. They were up and moving.
2. They were working with many different classmates.
3. They were talking to and enjoying their classmates.

Seriously, talk about a win-win situation. After a few weeks of trial and error, here are what turned out to be our favorite class builders that easily integrate content. For a book full of ready to go content class builders check out (affiliate link) this Kagan Classbuilders book.

Find a Classmate Who

This one requires absolutely zero prep. Take a worksheet or task cards that you are already planning on completing in class, but instead of each student doing their own work it is their responsibility to find a classmate who is able to answer each of the questions. 
To do this they:
1. Find a partner.
2. Trade papers.
3. Choose a question to answer. 
4. Answer the question showing any work necessary and initial their answer. 
5. Trade back papers.
6. Find a new partner and repeat the process until time is up or all questions are answered. 
To make sure that students are getting lots of practice I also require them to partner with as many different classmates as possible, and answer a different question each time they trade papers. 

To make test prep more interactive these Test Smash review pages could be used with this activity!


Quiz-Quiz-Trade may be my favorite class builder. It requires a little more prep, but not much. Each student is given a card with a question on the front and the answer on the back. When students partner up they hold their card in front of them with the question facing their partner. They partner reads and answers the question. The first person then praises them for a correct answer or coaches them towards the correct answer. The roles reverse, and then they switch cards and find another partner to repeat the process. 

Again, I challenge students to work with as many different classmates as they can, but it is okay for them to go back to the same partner later because they will have a different question. 

I LOVE this class builder for practicing fact fluency, because I can use flash cards that I got at the dollar store. They are fantastic because they already have the answer on the back. If I skipped a day of fact fluency with my students through Quiz-Quiz-Trade they definitely let me know!

Who Am I?

This class building activity is perfect for building up content vocabulary in the classroom while having a little fun! Each student is given a word on a notecard that they can't see. I have done this either by taping the notecard to their back or giving each student a headband to slip the card under. Then students roam the room asking classmates for clues about what they "are." 
An example interaction may sound something like this:
Student 1: Who am I?
Student 2: You are a 2D figure.
Student 1: Am I a square?
Student 2: No
Student 1: Who am I?
Student 3: You have six obtuse angles.
Student 1: Am I a hexagon?
Student 3: Yes!

This activity gets students working together and using content area vocabulary and language. These word wall cards are perfect for using with this game if you want to practice with math vocabulary and are already divided into units of study. 

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