Students walk in to the first day of class not knowing quite what to expect from you or their classmates. They may know just a few people… or, they may scan the room and see no familiar faces. They know basic information about what you’ll cover in the course, but they probably don’t yet know you, your teaching style, or the finer points of your course and its organization. Many of them may feel anxious about or intimidated by all these “unknowns.”
To help students warm up to one another, and to you, it can help to open up that first day of class with some icebreaker activities that help them get acquainted.
The following activities, taken from the Instructor’s Resource Manual for Christine Harrington, Ph.D.’s Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, help students feel more familiar with one another and thus set the groundwork for livelier interactions later on in the class. They’re designed to be easy to implement. Try one out and get students engaged on day one!
Truths and Lies
Ask students to identify 2 true interesting facts about themselves and one lie. Classmates then have to guess which statement was the “lie”.
Find Someone Who…
Provide students with a list of hobbies or activities. They then need to move around the room to find someone who is interested in each hobby on their paper.
Treats and Information
Bring in a bag of small wrapped candies and tell students they can take as many as they would like. For each piece of candy, they will need to tell the class an interesting fact about themselves. (Harrington, 1-2)
Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2013. Instructor’s Resource Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
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