As a student, I usually hated ice breakers. As a teacher, I love them. When used properly, they are an excellent tool for introducing students to each other and for getting to know your students. They also help with remembering names (something I admit I'm bad at doing).
Successful Beginnings for College Teaching lists some fantastic ice breakers. I know I said it in my last post, but if you are teaching, READ THIS BOOK!
Anyway, one great icebreaker I found in this book works like this:
Give each student a 3x5 card. On one side, have them write some basic information about themselves. I asked for their full name (w/preferred first name), preferred email, and major. On the other side, I had them write 2-3 unique things about themselves. I remember trying to do this as a student and never being able to come up with anything, so, as the teacher, I gave personal examples:
1. I've been to China
2. I took nine years of piano lessons and never play anymore, much to my parents' dismay.
3. I went to Muskingum as a student and now I work here.
After they finished filling out their cards, I asked them to go around and introduce themselves to each other - giving their names and their unique things.
Last, I collected the cards, read the unique things to the class as a whole, and had them tell me who it was. The person whose card it was wasn’t allowed to say, of course.
The only problem is that the class I teach tends to be one of those "I'll take it and pray I get into the class I really want" classes. So I had 6 students on day 1, 14 on Day 2, and still more changes on Day 3. By Day 3 Add/Drop has ended, so in the future I would do another icebreaker (but a different one, of course) that day if I had a similar change in students.