QuickTakes Online
A quick look at websites:

The Freebies Features Newsletter
The Freebies Features Newsletter goes out weekly, providing new links full of free resources for educators. Really - this is not a scam. The editor is selective in what content is included in his freebies list. You won't be required to send in postage or money, nor will you be required to make phone calls. Instead, you will gain access to hundreds of sources full of free CD-ROMs, books, software, and more, many of which you will find listed at the address above. Once you're there, you can also subscribe to the free newsletter. This is a legitimate service you will be glad you took advantage of.

We receive dozens of emails every week asking for information on education employment. And although Teachnet does not always have the information people are looking for, this site may. Hundreds of jobs in the U.S. are available. You just click on the state in which you are interested. You will receive options for teaching, administrative, or classified jobs. For example, if I am looking for a teaching job in California, I follow the aforementioned directions until the employment opportunities appear. I then see the title of the job, whether it is full- or part-time, job requirements, salary, the deadline for application, the school district and/or school name and address, the contact person, his/her phone number, and their email address and URL if available. Beware, though, that this is more than likely not a complete list of ALL possible jobs in any given state. But it should provide an excellent starting point.

The OnlineClass newsletter
The March edition of the OnlineClass email newsletter contains tips on how to use the Internet in a classroom with only one computer either for research or for online collaborative projects. You should be able to use a lot of tips from this creative project. The newsletter is free. If you'd like a copy, check out the site or send email to Cathy Demoll at cdemoll@onlineclass.com.

The Big Busy Schoolhouse
HarperCollins Children's Books recently launched The Big Busy Schoolhouse website, a new educational component of their Big Busy House site.
At The Big Busy Schoolhouse, viewers will find teacher's guides, activities, free teacher's exchange bulletin boards, contests for teachers and schools, tips for reading to babies and toddlers, and instructions for subscribing to the HarperCollins Children's Books newsletter for teachers and librarians. You may even be able to have a HarperCollins author at your school.

Internet Education Group Lesson Plan Place
The Internet Education Group has a useful site for educators called the Lesson Plan Place. Here you will find links to hundreds of lesson plans, categorized by subject and grade levels. They also include three to five of their own Internet-integrated lesson plans in their "What On Earth" section. You can subscribe to their free "Weekly Lessons" email newsletter; information is available at the above address. Or, you can check out the same lessons at the site, where they have them archived. Overall, this should prove to be a valuable resource as you begin looking at ideas for next year's curriculum.

Front page > Power Tools > How-To > Beat the Summer Heat; Plan Ice Breakers for Fall
This article is the second in a series looking at preparation for the next school year.
[more icebreakers here»]

You have a lot of curriculum to cover throughout the school year. Time is precious, and you can't afford to lose the first two weeks of class so the students can learn to get along well together. Coming up with activities to "break the ice" for your students is a great way to cut down on that introductory period. And whether you're a first-year teacher or have been doing this for 20 years, coming up with ideas for the first couple of days can be tough.

Here are some activities you can do to make your students feel at ease as soon as possible.

Each student receives a slip of paper with a song title on it, with about four or five people receiving the same song. They don't show their song to anybody. Instead, they hum their song, walking around the room trying to find other people humming the same song. For younger students, put the name of an animal on their paper. They can walk around making their animal's noise until they find others making the same noise.

Have each student introduce himself by first name and tell something they did this summer that starts with the same letter. For example, I could say "Hi, my name is Nicole, and I nudged the President." The next person in the line (or circle) does the same but must also introduce the people before him and their summer activity.

Place enough chairs for every student in a circle. Tell the children that you're sure you all have something in common with each other. Then say something like, "I really love pizza. If you love pizza, too, stand up by your seat." Comment on how many and continue with a few more statements like this. Then, and this is where the fun begins, tell the students to move to another seat if must stand in response to the next question. It should not be adjacent to them or occupied. As they do this, you sit in an empty seat. The last child standing will be the next person in the middle who must form an "if" statement. The trick to getting out of the center is to pick something that lots of people will have in common. Your students should learn this after a couple of rounds.

A classic icebreaker is to give your students a "People Finder Sheet." Make a list of qualifications like "Can speak another language" or "Has visited Europe." Then have students seek out these people in your class. Students who meet the qualifications initial the item. The object of the game is to fill the page with initials, but they can only use a student's initials once per sheet. Be careful, though. Because this icebreakers is a classic, many of your older students will have done this countless times in the past. But you can still use this icebreaker! The trick is to make the qualifications more interesting so they can learn fun things about each other.

Each student should write down three sentences describing himself. For example, "I have attended 11 schools," and "I have an aunt and an uncle both named Laverne," and "I love to vacation in Cancun." The catch is, two of the statements are true and one is false. (Try to guess which one I am lying about!) The students then share their three statements with each other or the entire class (whichever you prefer) and vote on which they think are true and false. The catch here is that the more unusual the information, the harder it will be for the other students to guess. Let them know this, and you are sure to learn some interesting trivia about your new students.

Starting a new school year can be as stressful for new students as it can be for you. Through the use of some of these icebreakers, your transition to the new year can be more comfortable for everyone. Good luck!

[more icebreakers here»]