Looking for a fun way to learn students’ names? Check out how these veteran educators do it.
As a math teacher with five or six classes each year, I play a version of the name game where I introduce myself, the first student introduces himself and then me, the second student introduces himself, the first student, and then me in that order. We continue until everyone has a turn. Then I say everyone’s name in that exact order. I usually don’t miss any name.
At the start I explain that this is a listening skill, and if each student listens carefully and practices silently as we take turns, everyone will know the names of everyone in the room. Several students will usually volunteer to show that they also know every name. I point out that they are practicing a technique that helps learn math—silently answering questions being asked of anyone in the room. Silently comparing their answer to another person’s answer.
I started this game half way through the year when I realized one ninth-grade boy did not know the names of the other students. When some one joins the class later in the year we will play again with the new student going last.
I play the name game with my six classes. I start off with my name and how I’m taking the class on a trip to Aruba. “Ms. Belcher is taking a bag of books.” The first student introduces him/herself, chooses an item to take that begins with the initial of his or her first name, and then reintroduces me. This pattern continues on until the last student has repeated all names and travel items. Works each year.
I use a small rubber football that I toss to students. Here’s how it works. I point to a child and say what I think is his or her name. If I get it wrong, the child tells me his or her name, catches the ball, and tosses it back to me. We go around the room this way until every child has a chance to catch the ball. The kids are impressed that their old lady teacher can catch and throw. It takes just a few minutes, for a few days, for me to learn the names of 150 sixth graders, and I often hear “English is fun,” as the kids leave at the end of the period.
To help the students learn each other’s names, I play a version of hide and seek. One student hides out of sight in the room and the others must guess who is missing. Students learn each other’s names very quickly.
I teach six sections of physics, 25+ kids each. I start off with an “introduce your partner” whiteboard activity. I then make students’ first assignment an activity where I must know their names in two weeks. I follow that up by meeting them at the door and trying to get their names as they walk in. This not only speeds attendance (taken before the bell rings), it also gives me more practice learning their names. After two weeks, I’ve got them.