10 activities to get to know your students better

The better you know your students, the easier it will be for you to understand them, connect with them and be able to arouse their interest, motivate them and enhance their learning. There are many proposals that will make it easier for you to get closer to them, listen to their opinions and points of view, know what excites them or worries them. We have selected ten activities with which you can get to know your students better and, at the same time, work with them on creativity, written and oral expression, the use of new technologies such as Essay Map, and other skills.

Write a literary self-portrait. You can ask your students questions to guide them or simply ask them to describe themselves, to find out what things stand out or from what point of view they do it. You can also encourage them to do it in video format.

Discover The first wonder of the world. This activity is based on an idea as simple as putting a mirror in a box and promoting mystery, but it is perfect for working on self-esteem and, in addition, it allows your students to reflect on themselves and learn to respect and value themselves.

Document a day of your life in pictures. Take advantage of the availability of mobile phones, tablets, or compact cameras and ask your students to document a day of their life or a weekend in images. They can use Flickr to store them, build a Prezi presentation, or create a collage.

Create a poster or mural with everything they like. They can include pictures and information about what they do in their free time, their interests, the sports they play, their favorite subjects, a movie, or a book. You can choose an analog version, with cardboard, photographs, and texts, or a digital one.

Immortalize your favorite place. It can be a corner of the school where they like to be or a place in the city that they like to go to. Ask them to think very well about which one they will choose, because it can only be one, and to take a photograph. Then they can edit the image and explain in the classroom why that place is special to them, or share it on Instagram with a caption that defines it, which you will later comment on in class.

Talk for a minute about a topic that they love. It can be a book, a movie, or an activity that they are passionate about. They can prepare a monologue, develop a script and perform the intervention in class, supported by a simple presentation or an image. Limiting time to one minute allows it to be an agile activity and forces them to summarize what they want to convey.

Interview someone special. To get to know your students it is also important to know those around them or the people they consider important. Ask your students to choose someone who is special to them - it could be from their family but also someone close to them that they admire or simply with whom they want to have a conversation. They will have to elaborate some questions and record the interview in audio with a mobile, a tablet, or a computer.

Make a playlist of your favorite songs. It can be another way, especially recommended for Secondary, to get to know your students and connect with them. You can choose one song from each and create a music playlist for the class.

Discuss a current issue. Choose a topic that may interest your students and that is related to their day-to-day life or to some current news, present it in class and encourage them to comment on it. It is important that everyone collaborates, that they are honest, and argue what they think. Afterward, you can write the main ideas that have been raised and create a word cloud in which the most important terms are shown, either on paper to have them visible in the classroom, or with a tool.

Tweet a phrase that excites them. It can be a recognized quote or a reflection on something that affects them or an opinion on a topic that you choose together in the classroom, but it must be presented in a maximum of 140 characters. You can share the phrases through a classroom Twitter account with a specific hashtag and each day, at the beginning of class, comment on its meaning, why the author chose it, and what it means for him.