How to start off and work together with kids

Try going round in circles? The way of getting a small group of students know each othe is to get them sitting in a circle. Ask one to say his or her name, then the person to the left to say, ‘I am… and this is my friend…’ Carry on round the circle, adding one name at each stage, till someone goes right round the circle correctly.

Love and hate relationships? A further way of getting to know students names is to ask them to introduce themselves, stating first their names and then something they like and something they dislike. It’s most effective when the subject matter is relatively uncontroversial, such as ‘I like cats but I hate cheese.’

Finding like-minded people. An alternative way of using a ‘likes’/’dislikes’ round ban be asking the students to find someone else in the group with similar likes and dislikes, and to form a duo or trio to prepare a poster or short sketch illustrating their shared feelings.

Learning happens by doing. To help you to get to know their names, once you have a complete list of the names, ask people from your list at random some (easy) questions. At first, you may need to keep you eyes on your list as you say someone’s name, and wait till you hear where their voice is coming from before looking up at them. However, the more often you use their names, the easier you’ll find it to look at the right person when using their name.

Place cards? In tutorials, laboratories and other places where small groups of students are positioned in particular place for a while, it is useful to give each student a ‘place card’ (a folded A5 sheet of card serves well – paper will do) and have them write their names on both sides of the card, and place the cards on the tables or benches (or at their feet if they are sitting without tables). Cards can be seen at a distance much better than labels. This allows you to address individuals by name, and also helps them to get to know each other’s names.

Make yourself a template? When you know all the (preferred) names of members of a large group, make an overhead transparency with all the names on it, and use this to structure seminar groups or syndicate groups. Put a blank sheet of transparency on top of this template, and add (for example) letters A, B, C, D… beside names to divide the larger group into sub-groups, and perhaps put an asterisk beside the names of convenors (rotating such roles as successive tasks are issued). This gradually helps you get to know all the names of students even in quite large groups (and allows you to retain your template for future use with this particular class). Seeing each other’s names on the screen is a way of helping members of quite large groups not to feel so anonymous or ‘lonely’.

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