Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Break that Ice!

Teaching Technique #2: Ice Breakers
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.

This worked wonderfully. They came up with some pretty funny stuff. We learned interesting things about each other, and they started to get to know each other.

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.


reyn said...

You went to CHINA??

Does that last part mean that everyone wants your class, or that they just hang out there until the class they wanted accepts them?

Seriously, China? How cool! Did you get interrogated?

Kat said...

Yes, I went to China! It rocked, and I would definitely visit again.

My class often serves as a fallback plan. It's merely an elective, so students will often add it but hope to get into a different class that they really want. Or, for those students who don't really plan ahead, they end up adding my class when they do not get into the other class for which they are waitlisted. Thus, the class can really change during the Add/Drop period.