Since we first started sending out the Cengage Learning eNewsletter, our readers have responded very positively to the the teaching tips and activities we’ve provided. Today, we’re bringing back one of the most popular resources we’ve shared to date. Review the activity, and consider the ways you might bring these ideas — or similar ones — into your classroom. 

Have you tried the activity presented here? How did it go? What did your students learn? Share your feedback in the Comments section. Please feel free to share activities that you’ve created to promote learner engagement as well!

Building a community within your classroom is an ideal way to promote student interaction and engagement, but it’s often easier said than done. A quick, easy way to create a spark that could lead to community building is to start off your course with an icebreaker on the first day.

Especially in first-year courses, group building can be a critical aspect of promoting classroom community. Often, these courses can be large class sessions, but starting any course off with an icebreaker activity can help you:

    • Make students more comfortable in the classroom. For many students, the beginning of any new venture involves some degree of threat. They will have questions about how they fit into the “big picture” like: How will others react to me? What will I gain in this class? What can I contribute?
    • Promote interaction by getting students involved early. The best way to reduce anxieties and increase comfort is to get students involved right away. They will be much more willing to listen to you if you’re willing to listen to them.
    • Encourage connections in the classroom – among students and between you and your students. Interaction between you and your students is important, but it can be just as important to promote interaction between students to build a successful classroom community. (Adapted from Staley 2003, 31)

Download an icebreaker from Constance Staley’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lectern. This activity will provide an interesting way to promote students getting to know one another, discover commonalities, and build community in your classroom.

Reference: Content adapted from Staley, Constance. 2003. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lectern. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Post Author: Tami Strang. Tami Strang is a Managing Editor of the Cengage Learning blog. She has extensive experience in higher education publishing, and recently obtained her Masters degree through the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science.