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Biology: The Un-safety Skit
On the first day, after taking care of a few short "must-dos," I perform a "safety" skit in which I demonstrate, tongue-in-cheek, how to do a lab.
I dress inappropriately with open-toed shoes, dangling jewelry, safety glasses hanging around my neck, etc. I add as many outrageous behaviors as I can such as throwing paper into a distant basket as if I'm on the free-throw line, estimating volumes instead of measuring, leaving spills uncleaned and failing to wash my hands.
The students have the responsibility of identifying as many unsafe practices as they can, and they are asked to list some other safety issues that I did not address in the skit.
It's a great icebreaker, it engages the students in a very important topic, and it is a break from the usual first day of school stuff that gets old for high school kids that have to go through eight different classes filling out index cards and hearing the rules and regulations. It helps me to begin learning students' names on the first day as I call on them for their input, and it models some procedures for class discussion. The skit and discussion only take 15-20 minutes, allowing plenty of time for the introductory information that you feel cannot wait until the second day of classes. Best of all, most of the kids leave with a smile on their faces...sometimes I even get applause!
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