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Starter activity to engage students from day one

When I first started teaching IB Business Management, I wanted to set the tone of the classroom and get students into the routines they would be using throughout the next two years in my classroom. At the time, most of my students came from a system where silence was prized as good behavior, and there was only one right answer. I wanted to show them the new environment where discussion, questioning, critical thinking and collaboration were the normal.

To do this, I saw an activity (sadly I have lost the original creator, so I can’t give them proper credit) where Rorschach ink blots are hung up around the room and students move from image to image writing down what they see. They then work with a partner to talk about what they each saw and show their partner something they couldn’t see. To finish off the activity, we all look at the images as a class and talk about what each person sees. These are the instructions I give below.

Here is what the worksheet for students looks like. You can choose different images or add the instructions here if it makes it easier.

Usually at the very end, I ask students why we do this activity. It is not related to Business specifically and we could spend half of the class doing something more ‘productive’, but I find this to be one of the best starters I have ever used.

This activity does the following:

1. Shows students that everyone has a different perspective and those that are different than ours can be very powerful and informative

2. Emphasizes the importance of looking at something from different perspectives. Some students see images in the dark ink while others see images in the white/blank spaces. Some students turn the images upside down or sideways to see something new.

3. Shows me how well students follow directions and work with others. Do they write a sentence describing what they see (asked for on the worksheet) or do they just write a word? They are also required to speak in English which is usually their second, third or fourth language and we talk about the value of speaking in English all the time in the classroom.

4. Introduces the dynamic of moving around the class, having different ideas, freely discussing with others, etc. If I start from day one with this environment, students will feel comfortable with this throughout their time with me.

Is there anything else that you think this activity gives to the students, the classroom environment or to me as a teacher? Am I missing anything?

What is your favorite starter activity for your classes? Let me know if the comments!

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