Hypothesizing the School year

A great exercise for the beginning of the year to get students thinking and find out about any misconceptions ahead of time.
The beginning of the year is a busy time, and it is easy to get caught up in all the hullabaloo, but it is important to remember what we are there for. We are there to build relationships with our students and foster a community of learning. So why not start the by encouraging students to share what they know about learning?

This idea is really rather simple, and I have done it in one form or another several times. The best part is that what takes only about thirty minutes or so at the beginning of the year has a big payoff all year long!

Now to get down to it:
Look at your curriculum map, or plan, and make a list of the major topics that you will be covering throughout the year. You can choose to focus on one subject, a couple of subjects, or all of them. I generally chose to focus on math, science, and social studies, but that is just me.

For each topic write the title, just a couple of words, on a piece of paper leaving plenty of room around it. Make sure that you have a paper for each topic you want to know about.

Decide how you want your students to complete the activity. This will depend greatly on how many students and how many topics you have.
A few options are:
Hang the papers around the room and students circulate freely.
Play a game of SCOOT with the papers on desks.
Disperse papers to table groups to complete together.
Set papers in a station for students to complete throughout the week.

A great exercise for the beginning of the year to get students thinking and find out about any misconceptions ahead of time. Once you decide how you want your students to get to each paper the fun begins! Their job is to look at the title on each paper and write down something they know about the topic without reading what others have written.

**An alternate way of doing this is to give each student a sticky note for each topic and collect them. This is a good idea if your students struggle with not reading what other's have written.**

After students have completed the activity collect all the papers and file them with the information for the topics they go with. I personally chose tom take a picture of each of the papers and keep them digitally to project, rather than hold onto the papers.

**For a completely digital form of this activity Google Forms would be a perfect solution!**

When you get to each unit go ahead and pull out the paper for the topic and go over it as a class. You can also take the opportunity to check for any misconceptions that students may have listed and build in the corrections to your lesson plans. I like to leave it displayed in some way during the unit, and then we go over it again at the end of the unit.

I made a real habit out of this, and my students really came to expect it with each unit!

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