Everything’s new at the beginning of the school year—classmates, classrooms, teachers, schedules, grade, content, maybe even the school. That can make everybody a little nervous. How you start a new school year can influence how your year progresses, so you want to make sure you get off to a good start. Mouse Mischief can help smooth that back-to-school transition and give your students a sense of how much fun and how exciting the coming year will be. Here are just a few ways that using multiple-mouse lessons can make a great beginning to a year everyone will look forward to. 

A novel way to break the ice. Create and play a multiple-mouse lesson to help break down barriers among your students and build community right from the first day. You can make slides with every student’s name and photo on them, and insert multiple-mouse slides with questions about the class that students will have fun answering on the screen. 

·         You can use multiple-choice slides, for example, to ask them to take a quick look around the room and then estimate data about their new classmates. One slide might ask the question, We have 36 students in our class this year. How many boys and how many girls are there? Once everyone has clicked an answer, the correct numbers will appear in the Results pane. It’s good practice for their observation and estimating skills as well. 

·         You can also insert polling slides that can help everyone get to know the group. For example, you can ask, What is your favorite sport? or What musical instrument do you play?  Once they’ve clicked one of the answers on the screen, the Results pane displays which sport or instrument is the most popular overall and which ones only one or two students play. The students who clicked the last answer, “Other,” then have an opportunity to tell everyone what they play.    

·         You can use Yes/N o slides to find out how many students speak a second or third language, have lived in another country or another state or province, own pets, and so on.

·         Find out how they spent their time during the summer while giving them a chance to practice their estimating and percentage skills. Create a drawing slide with four large circles under the question and instruction, How did you spend your summer days? Draw lines in the circle to show what percentage of the pie/circle you spent each day doing: 1) outdoor activities, 2) household chores, 3) reading and/or summer classes, and 4) TV, movies, and video games. Each student can draw his or her own pie chart and get a visual sense of how they spent their time.   

You can ask any kind of question on the clickable slides, anything to help loosen the class up and elicit information that will help them get to know each other. The students will enjoy clicking and drawing their answers, and they’ll learn a lot about their new class. The novelty of being able to answer at the same time with their mice might even generate a very positive first-day-of school experience.

Get parents involved on Back-to-School Night. Give a Mouse Mischief presentation to parents to actively engage them as you introduce yourself and your plan for the year’s learning. Surprise them with a little fun and get them laughing. Hand them each a mouse and then use a Yes/No multiple-mouse slide to find out how much they know about what students in their child’s grade level are already expected to know and what they are supposed to learn in the coming year. The answers could be very interesting! You can follow this up with an overview of the units you’ll be teaching during the year. Use polling slides to find out which continents they were born on, which languages they speak—to give them a sense of your class’s diversity. You can also use polling slides to find out what they think is the most important thing their child should learn during the year, and then incorporate their answers into a description of your teaching philosophy. Besides actively engaging parents, using Mouse Mischief instead of an ordinary PowerPoint or other presentation is a great way to introduce them to the new tool you’ll be incorporating in their child’s learning. That way they’ll have a feel for Mouse Mischief when their child comes home talking about it.

Review material your students covered last year and assess where they are. Mouse Mischief is a great way to help your students review material they covered the previous year, so that they’ll be prepared for the new material you’ll be teaching. Multiple-mouse lessons are also very useful to assess the skill level of your students, individually and as a class. Their answers on the screen give you immediate feedback about what they know and don’t know, and what the class distribution is in a particular subject. For example, if the answers they click show that the majority doesn’t fully understand fractions, you can start the year off with a more intense review of fractions. Using multiple-mouse slides to ask them questions for review or formative assessment is a non-threatening and enjoyable way to find out what you need to know about your students at the beginning of the year so you can respond better to their needs. 

Explore other ways to use Mouse Mischief lessons to ease into the new school year, and don’t forget to share your ideas with the teaching community.