Icebreakers for Classes
To survive, polar bears break through the ice. Teachers can break the ice to help students thrive. This interactive webinar will help you to stimulate, motivate, socialize and prepare your students for success. Participants will leave with practical strategies that they can immediately use to transform students from passive observers into active participants in their education.

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This post includes both the slides as well as a Q&A.
Presenter: Shawn Orr Director, Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence Professional Instructor Communication Studies Ashland College
Shawn Orr has been working in higher education for more than 25 years. She is a Business and General Education professor and chairperson, as well as an academic advisor, Dean, Dean of Faculty, and Director of College Success courses. She has taught more than 20 courses in business, management and composition as well as communication.
Shawn was the 2011 North Central Educators Association Educator of the year. She has been involved in accreditation, assessment and online learning, curriculum design, and curriculum redesign in higher education. She has presented, prepared and delivered more than 200 workshops, webinars and training seminars across the country on topics such as student success, advising and online learning, portfolio development and retention strategies, technology, generational teaching, learning, flipped classrooms and apps to engage students, active learning strategies, 21st-century skill development, and active teaching strategies.
People who lived in colder climates had to cut through the ice of rivers and ponds to get water. Boats also saw the need for an axe or other tool to break the Ice. We see that breaking the ice is a way to remove obstacles that prevent progress towards a destination. Our students enter our classrooms with a goal to succeed. One way to create a welcoming environment is by using ice breakers.
Some faculty only use ice breaks on the first day. They are used every week by me.
Thank you to Essie Childers, Blinn College
Maryellen Weimer writes in Faculty Focus, “First Day of Class Activities That Create a Climate for Learning” and lists some great first-day activities. Below are two ideas that I think would work well with large groups.
First Day Graffiti — This adaptation of an activity suggested by Barbara Goza in The Journal of Management Education 1993 (Graffiti Assessment: Students in the First Class Session).
Place flip charts with markers underneath all over the classroom. Each chart has a different sentence stem. Here are some examples:
“I learn best in classes that the teacher _____”
“Students in courses help us learn when we ___”
“I am most likely that I will participate in classes when _____”
“Here’s a thing that makes it difficult to learn in a class: _____”
“Here’s a simple way to learn in a course: _____”
Students are encouraged to walk around the room, writing responses and chatting with their teachers. After everyone has made comments on each flip chart, the teacher walks up to each one and talks about one or two of them. You can also conduct the debriefing during the next session if you are running out of time.
Syllabus Speed Dating — Karen Eifler is an education professor at University of Portland. In larger classes, two rows of chairs can face each other. Multiple rows of chairs can be used. Students are seated across from one another, each holding a copy of their syllabus. Eifler asks them two questions. One is about the syllabus, and one is more personal. Each of the questions can be answered in a very short time. Eifler double-checks that the syllabus question was correctly answered. Eifler then asks two questions to the new pair of students who are in the row below. This activity not only helps students get to know each other better, but it also allows them to read the syllabus and find out what they need to learn about the course.
Introductions – Lights Camera Action
Thank you to: Mia Taylor, Houston Community College
Here’s how I describe what I do to students:
Let’s have fun creating a movie poster that reflects who we are.
This activity serves the following purpose:
Introduce yourself and get to know your classmates
Use the LMS Discussion features to familiarize yourself.
Instructions for Assignment
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