I have written on this before but something coming up again soon for UK teachers and no doubt many readers are already doing this – lots of new names to learn! Something we all need to do at the start of each year, learn the names of our classes as fast as we can! Certainly I think this is worth spending time on and should be a priority, we want our students to know that we know who they are!
I used name cards last year and will certainly use them again for the coming academic year. These are simple to make from an A4 piece of paper which can be folded in half and then folded in half again. Students can then write their name clearly on one side of the card. The other side of the card visible to the student could be a reminder of anything you want; the above illustration shows the card I used for a lesson observation with a class I was unfamiliar with. For my own students I have the details of when homework will be set and handed in and the address of the blog I use to post details of homework. In case it’s useful this is the Word file for the above example.
There is plenty of useful advice for learning names, these suggestions might be helpful:
I was interested to see a suggestion to seat your class alphabetically by their first name rather than surname in one article; that could be worth a try.
Learning Students’ Names from the University of Nebraska includes many suggestions. I might try a variation on suggestion 15 here with younger students, perhaps they could try and think of a mathematical term which begins with the same initial letter as their name, Colleen calculator, Tina triangle….!
On the subject of names it is worth mentioning the lists compiled by the Office for National Statistics. In fact the top names for England and Wales for 2013 were published on August 15th 2014. This pdf details the key findings from the data and includes Excel files to download various tables. There are clear infographics showing the changes from 2003 to 2013 for girls and boys.
Anna Powell-Smith’s website England & Wales Baby Names has details of names chosen by parents in England & Wales each year from 1996 to 2013 (based on the ONS data discussed above), using this site makes it easy to see the popularity of a name over time, we could search on Colleen for example (or this link for the US version)!
I think teachers and students can also be users of the baby name statistics because in my experience it goes down very well with students! What’s in a name? is a lesson from the the Census at school site; the lesson is suggested for Year 7 (age 11-12) and learners are asked to investigate popular first names and do a survey for their class on the image of first names and to report their results. This involves data collection, presenting data and designing a survey. Another suggested lesson which I have have successfully used myself is Baby Names from Stats4schools. The lesson involves students investigating the popularity of names and asks whether names get more or less popular over time.
Students might be interested to see how their school compares to the ONS data.
Further websites offering Statistics on names:
Entering a name into WolframAlpha shows US Statistics for that name and gives the etymology of the name and notable people with that name.
This Wikipedia entry has the top 10 names for various regions of the world.