Even on my fourth day of class, I am spending time building community. I know 90% of my students’ names by now, so I don’t waste time calling roll. Instead, I told students that they would be forming an age line today: stand in a row from oldest to youngest. Since my room isn’t large enough to comfortably hold us (and because I have pods of desks in the way), we went out into the hall.
My students are sophomores, so they’re capable of performing this activity on their own. I don’t help them. I stand back, observe, and watch. I discover who my natural leaders in the class are. I discover if their peers will actually listen to them. I discover the wide range of students I have.
Once students have finalized their Age Line, I have them state their birthday aloud for the entire class. To keep things interesting for myself, I moved oldest-youngest with some hours and youngest-oldest with other hours. In a couple classes, we discovered some students share birthdays, near-birthdays, and half-birthdays. One student announced that he was born on a Friday the 13th. Another student who is one of my tallest students actually turned out to be one of my youngest. And one of my students who I assumed to be on the young side (based on stories I’ve heard about his…life choices) is actually one of my oldest students. Finally, I discovered I have some 14-year-olds in my 10th grade English class. That’s good information for me to have.
Will you have your students form an Age Line early in the year? How could you modify this activity for your classroom? I’ve seen it done in silence before, but I like hearing the communication.