The first day of class is a filled with nervous anticipation for me. I know that this is just one in a series of days, but making a good first impression can set your course in the right direction. One of the first things I like to tackle is creating a community of learners. I want them to be comfortable with one another and that starts by meeting each other. I do this by always starting with some type of icebreaker in the class.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Answer Me This: The most basic icebreaker is to go around the room and have students introduce themselves. If you want to go beyond the standard name, major and hometown, try adding one of these:
- Ask students to pick one word to describe themselves. To get a little more creative, ask them to pick a food, place, or movie that sums up their life.
- Ask students to describe the best environment and situation for them to learn.This is also a great way for you to learn more about individual learning preferences.
- Ask students for to give a recommendation for a book, a movie, a restaurant, etc. Or ask students to give a piece of advice that they find valuable.
- Ask each student (or each row of students) a “Would you rather…” question. For example, “Would you rather make a new law of your choice or get rid of an existing law of your choice?” If you need question ideas, check out https://www.rrrather.com/
- Two Truths, One Lie: This activity can be done as a whole class or by breaking the class into groups. Have students give three facts about themselves with two being true and one being a lie. Then ask the class or group to decide which is the lie. I’ve found this activity brings out the most interesting facts about people because they are trying to trick the group into picking the wrong fact.
- Objects on a Table: My colleague has done this activity for several years. She collects objects around her house and brings them to class (one object per student plus a few extra). In class, she spreads out the objects on a table and asks each student to pick an object that might describe something about themselves. Students then make their introduction and explain how the object relates (or doesn’t relate) to them.
- Meet My New Friend: Ask students to pick a partner and interview that person so that they can introduce their partner to the class. I like doing this in classes with adult learners and commuter students because these types of students often feel isolated from campus life. This activity ensures that they will have at least had a conversation with another student in the class and that’s one step closer to being a part of the campus community.
- Either/Or: This activity takes a little bit of room, so you may need to push chairs out of the way or go outside to do this. Ask students to stand in the middle of the class and then give them two choices. If they pick choice A have them go to one side of the room and choice B goes to the other side of the room. For example, “If you were born in Indiana go to the left, but if you were born elsewhere go to the right.” This quickly helps students see how they are similar or different.
Faculty Focus has a great article with additional icebreaker activities available here.
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