“Investigate the Teacher” is my all-time favorite first day of school activity. I’ve been using it for the last 5 years now, and every year, it makes for the most fun, engaging, and stress-free first day of school. This year, it will look a little different, but it will still be just as fun!
“Investigate the Teacher” is a unique, engaging activity that asks students to explore the classroom for clues about their teacher’s personality, teaching style, etc. Since most of us are either remote or restricted in a socially distanced classroom this year, the virtual version of this activity involves a digital gallery of exhibits full of artifacts that represent the teacher.
If you’re ready to create your own virtual exhibits for the Investigate the Teacher activity, then this blog post will show you just how to do just that! If you want more information about the activity itself, and not just the exhibits, then you can read about it HERE or check out the digital/print-ready resource HERE. This blog post is intended for teachers who are ready to add to the Google slides exhibits included in the Investigate the Teacher activity. Keep in mind that the examples you see here have been created with the templates in my resource HERE. Full instructions on how to facilitate the activity (synchronously or asynchronously) are included in the resource.
Let’s get started! Here are some ideas about what to include in your virtual exhibits, as well as my own examples. I hope these examples help you generate your own ideas and create an engaging virtual gallery for your Investigate the Teacher activity!
PHOTOS OF YOU & YOUR FAVORITE THINGS, PLACES, AND PEOPLE
The easiest artifacts to add are probably right in your phone: photos! Feel free to include a few photos of you, but don’t forget to add photos of your favorite things, people, and places. I included photos of me and my siblings, my favorite national parks and places, as well as pictures of me in my classroom. While your exhibits don’t have to be themed, my second one (pictured below) is travel themed.
PHOTOS OF YOUR CLASSROOM
You can also include photos of your classroom, especially if you are beginning the year remotely. Just snap some pics of your bulletin boards, teacher desk, and any other areas that might give students clues about your personality and teaching style.
Since I’ll be beginning the year in my classroom, I’m going to let kids glance around the room (from their seats). I decided to add some photos from my previous classrooms so students could make inferences from those, too. Maybe they’ll be able to infer some things from the evolution of my classrooms…who knows?! You can see my classroom-themed exhibit below:
A VIRTUAL CLASSROOM SCENE
If you hopped on the virtual/Bitmoji classroom scene trend, you can make that an exhibit for your Investigate the Teacher activity! I’ve seen many teachers who use this as their only exhibit. I didn’t make a full virtual classroom this year (just these fun Google Classroom headers), so I don’t have an example to show you! But you can incorporate many of the ideas in this blog post in your virtual classroom! Maybe your virtual classroom is your only exhibit, and maybe it’s one of many…it’s entirely up to you!
CLIPART OR IMAGES OF THINGS ON YOUR DESK OR IN YOUR CLASSROOM
Another easy thing to add is clipart of your teacher supplies & items! Think of what’s on your teacher desk. What’s in your classroom? What are your teaching must-haves? And what do they say about you? Here are a few things that I added:
- A laptop: I am a bit of a tech nerd when it comes to teaching, so this will show my students that technology will be integrated in our lessons.
- My planner: If only students could see the messy, Type-B lists inside of my planner. Perhaps they’ll infer that I am organized…then I’ll have to set them straight on my “organized chaos” philosophy.
- My fun teacher microphone: I love using this in my classroom, and I want students to catch on to my passion for making learning fun, surprising, and (a little bit) dramatic!
- A cup of coffee: My students will never catch me without a coffee mug on my desk. Maybe they’ll infer that I’m not a natural morning person (correct) or that I’m extra energetic and goofy after my morning cup (also correct).
In addition to images and clipart of your classroom materials, think symbolically about how you can represent your personality and teaching style. If you’re stumped, type some of your personality traits (or related words) into a Google image search, and you’ll probably think of a few ideas! Here are a few of my own examples:
- I added some bright colored pencils to show students that I am creative and artsy.
- The glass half full of water reveals that I have an optimistic personality.
- The sun shows that I have a warm, “sunny” personality. Also, I love summer!
You can make these symbols as abstract as you want. The more challenging to decipher, the harder students will have to work during their virtual investigation! I recommend including a mix of obvious and complex symbols so that you can see which students stick to the basics and which can make more advanced inferences! This built-in scaffolding will make your activity accessible to all students!
You can see a few of my symbolic examples here on my first exhibit:
FAVORITE QUOTES AND/OR DIGITAL POSTERS
If you’re anything like me, you probably have some of your favorite quotes plastered all over your classroom walls, so make sure to add those to your virtual galleries. If you have digital poster sets, you can even take screenshots of some posters and add them to your exhibits. I included a poster of one of my favorite quotes about reading. If you’re interested, you can find the full poster set HERE.
FUN STUFF: MEMES, GIFS, EMOJIS, & BITMOJIS
Feel free to spice up your exhibit slides with fun stuff like memes, GIFs, emojis, and Bitmojis! To add a GIF, find one on a site like Giphy. Then, either copy the GIF link or save it to your computer. When you’re ready to add it, go to Insert → Image; if you have the link, select “By URL;” otherwise, just use the “Upload from Computer” option. If you want to add your Bitmoji, I recommend downloading the Chrome extension, which makes it easy to copy and paste your Bitmoji.
MULTIMEDIA: AUDIO, VIDEO, LINKS, & MORE
If you want, you can even get fancy and add audio, video, or links to other content. I’ve heard of some teachers taking a video of their classroom and using that in their virtual gallery. Maybe you could record a quick video introducing yourself (without “giving away” info about your personality) or include links to your favorite books! As long as students can make inferences from what you include, anything goes!
As you can see, the possibilities are endless, and the virtual exhibit slides will look different for each teacher. It’s simply a matter of finding the right artifacts to uniquely represent you in a way that will make sense to your students.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful! If you have any amazing ideas to contribute, please leave a comment. I love to hear from fellow educators who have taken my ideas and made them even more fun! And if you have any questions about this activity, please let me know as well. You can find more information on the Investigate the Teacher Activity in this blog post, full instructions & materials in the resource HERE, and examples, tips, and tricks over on my Instagram.