07-31-2017 09:14 AM
As my summer break winds down, planning for the start of the semester is on my mind. I've always believed the first day of class sets the tone for the semester. I teach large sections of gen-ed history and for the fall, most of my students will be freshmen. This semester, I'm planning to use a short, get-acquainted activity so students can meet some of their classmates on the first day. I'd be interested in hearing your ideas. Do you use an ice-breaker on the first day? Or do you have other ideas to make that first day count?
07-31-2017 09:27 AM
In my online classes, the students do an Introductory Discussion Post where they have to tell us Three interesting facts about themselves. In my oncampus classes, we do the same thing, but they have to introduce the person next to them after learning 3 interesting facts. I'd love a more innovative and fun icebreaker so please share!
09-05-2017 03:29 PM
I use this same type of introductory discussion board post in all of my courses, both seated and online. It helps me and other students to learn about each other, including students in a seated course. In the seated course, I also have students introduce themselves to at least three people in the course; I allow them to talk for a few minutes amongst themselves. It helps them to make connections in class; they often notice some of the same people in other areas of campus and in other courses. Once they have introduced themselves in my course, they are more likely to talk to those people again if they see each other elsewhere. I stress to students the importance of forming a network of fellow learners, a valuable source of motivation and inspiration as they move through the semester and through their academic careers. I explain that having a fellow student who understands your journey is very comforting. It takes a village...
07-31-2017 02:58 PM - edited 08-22-2017 01:54 PM
I teach my students to use mnemonics as they study throughout the semester so I do a fun exercise in which I explain how the keyword mnemonic technique works (you take a word or name and try to find an abstract image inside that word, then create a crazy image that connects to the word or person). Then:
Here's a video I created that I show them which explains how the keyword technique works:
It can be challenging to make interesting images out of peoples names, but it's definitely doable. For example, for a student with the name of "mike", we look at the student's face or clothing to see what's unusual about his look. Suppose he's wearing a tie. If so then we imagine Mike wearing a huge "mic-rophone" around his neck instead of a tie.
"Claudia" might have nice eyebrows so we imagine scary "claws" coming out of her eyebrows. It's weird, but it works and it's fun and it's ultimately useful for the students to memorize their classmates' names.
Try it! If you have any questions about it I'd be happy to answer them!
08-02-2017 01:39 PM
I have a couple of ice breakers that I use. The first one, I have students introduce themselves and tell how long they have been at the college,what they are studying, and since I teach nutrition, they are to name their favorite comfort food.
The other one I use, and students love this one, I give the students a bag of the fun size M&M's (the ones you get for Halloween or Easter) and tell them not to open them until I say so. Then I pick a random color of M&M and have the students open their bag as I call on them. They then have to introduce themself and tell me something they want to learn about nutrition for every M&M they have of the chosen color. Note: You have to watch out for those students who can't help themselves and eat the M&M's before it's their turn!
08-02-2017 01:43 PM
I'm loving all these ice breaker ideas. I wonder if anyone has other ideas for the first day of class? I'm trying to avoid the traditional "read the syllabus" day if I can. Does anyone have ideas for larger classes (100+)?
08-08-2017 02:56 PM - edited 03-04-2018 05:02 PM
Starting Your Class with a Spark!
The fun part: Allow the students to stomp their balloon and return to their seats.
I hope you have a great semester!
Note: Each semester I do this activity, my students leave the classroom talking about the balloons. Step outside of your comfort zone and try it.
08-09-2017 09:52 AM - edited 08-25-2017 02:17 PM
I've found students love "I like when and I hate it when." Give your students an index card and ask them to put three things they like instructrors to do on one side and three things they hate on the other. Then read these anonymously and talk realistically about how your class is organized.
But to truly engage students I debunk Ancient Aliens and other history programs. Talking about students perceptions of history changes their perspective.
09-01-2017 01:56 PM
Just came across an icebreaker that I intend to adapt as a first day of class icebreaker activity. Here is the source, and I've cut and paste the original activity as well.