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Break the Ice

Author: Unknown

Source: Honolulu Community College, www.honolulu.hawaii.edu

The first day of class is usually spent in part by getting acquainted and establishing goals. Ice breakers are techniques used at the first session to reduce tension and anxiety, and also to immediately involve the class in the course. Use an icebreaker because you want to, not as a time filler or because teaching guides say one should be used. Listed below are several examples of ice breakers.

INTRODUCE MYSELF

Participants introduce themselves and tell why they are there. Variations: Participants tell where they first heard about the class, how they became interested in the subject, their occupations, home towns, favorite television programs, or the best books they have read in the last year.

INTRODUCE ANOTHER

Divide the class into pairs. Each person talks about him/herself to the other, sometimes with specific instructions to share a certain piece of information. For example, "The one thing I am particularly proud of is..." After five minutes, the participants introduce the other person to the rest of the class.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

Have students write down one or two adjectives describing themselves. Put these on a stick-on badge. Have class members find someone with similar or opposite adjectives and talk for five minutes with the other person.

I'VE DONE SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T DONE

Have each person introduce themselves and then state something they have done that they think no one else in the class has done. If someone else has also done it, the student must state something else until he/she finds something that no one else has done.

FIND SOMEONE

Each person writes on a blank index card one to three statements, such as favorite color, interest, hobby, or vacations. Pass out cards so everyone gets someone else's card. Have that person find the person with their card and introduce him or herself.

FAMOUS PERSON

People write a famous name on a piece of paper and pin it on someone else's back. Person tries to guess what name is pinned on his/her by asking others around the room yes or no questions. Variation: Use famous place instead of famous person.

MY NAME

People introduce themselves and tell what they know about why they have their name (their mother wanted to name me after her great aunt Helen who once climbed Pike's Peak in high heels, etc.). It could be the first, middle or nick name.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Ask the students to write down words or phrases that describe their feelings on the first day of class. List the responses on the blackboard. Then ask them to write down what they think you as the teacher are feeling this first day of class. List them on the blackboard in a second column and note the parallels. Briefly comment on your feelings and then discuss the joint student/teacher responsibilities for learning in the course.

These are just a few of the hundreds of icebreakers. Be creative and design your own variations. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different approaches, and above all, have fun and start that most important first day of class on the right foot!

 
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