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Best Ice Breaker IdeasNo matter how long one teaches, there is always (at least for me)...

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 28, 2008 at 8:45 PM via web

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Best Ice Breaker Ideas

No matter how long one teaches, there is always (at least for me) that dreaded first day of unfamiliar faces.  I thought it might be a good idea to share some of our favorite ice breakers. 

One of my favorites is to have the students pair off and introduce the other to the class after a couple of minutes of talking to their partner,  I ask them to tell the class the students' name and something interesting about that student.  This helps in that the students know at least one person right away, and makes me focus on who is who as I have to make that mental jump to put the right name with the right face (instead of my usual policy of forgetting someones name immediately).  I have 20 in my class this time, and knew all but two names on the second day!

What have you all done in your classes to break the ice?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 29, 2008 at 2:18 AM (Answer #2)

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My kids have known each other since kindergarten, so I don't get to use many ice breakers. One thing I have done is to have each person write on a small piece of paper three or four things about themselves that nobody in the room knows. They fold the papers and put them in a box or "hat." I go first and draw out a paper and read it. Whoever guesses the right person gets to go next.

In middle school, I used something called "clock buddies." Instead of assigning groups each time we needed to form one, I made a printout of a clock face with space for three or four names at each hour. Students then go around the room and find clock buddies for each hour. Whenever we did group work, I would say something like, "Get together with your 4:00 buddies for this project." I'll bet it would work with older students too.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 29, 2008 at 8:54 AM (Answer #3)

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I have kids create their own license plates...they have 8 numbers or letters, a "state", county, and any artwork they want to include.  For my example, I chose the "state of paranoia" for kicks and giggles to let them know the sky was the limit.  I got some great and creative messages in the 8 numbers and letters "I M GR8T" was one.  Anyway, they have to present them...explain the message, the artwork, how the whole thing defines them.  I display them on the wall for the first few weeks.

Another idea is the True Colors personality test.  They take a quick test to see what color they are predominantly (blue, green, gold, orange) and then we talk about what each color means.  We talk about how knowing another person's color could help us get along better, and I let them guess what they think I am.  It's fun, and as an added bonus, I get info on learning styles out of them.

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 29, 2008 at 8:59 AM (Answer #4)

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The clock buddies does work with older students and I really like that one because it actually requires paying attention.

Most of my students are usually familiar with each other or at least the reputations of each other so we don't go in totally unaware of who everyone is. I will have many of the students here for 3 years so I know a lot as well. I use Jamie's method with a small twist. We get into groups of 3 or 4 and the students have some specific questions they are to ask each person in the group, then we do introductions. It's a little more guided because they are high school students and given the freedom they would sit there and say very little or talk about inappropriate subject matter. It is pretty fun though because I get to learn new things about students I already know. After we go around and do introductions I'll have students the very next day try to remember what they learned about the students the day before. I usually start it off with what I remember about a student and then that student tries to recall information about a different student in the class. Failing that, they can say something that I told them about myself, which most can remember, then it's up to me to get it going again with a different student. Either way students are pleased that someone remembered something about them.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 29, 2008 at 3:00 PM (Answer #5)

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I have kids create their own license plates...they have 8 numbers or letters, a "state", county, and any artwork they want to include.  For my example, I chose the "state of paranoia" for kicks and giggles to let them know the sky was the limit.  I got some great and creative messages in the 8 numbers and letters "I M GR8T" was one.  Anyway, they have to present them...explain the message, the artwork, how the whole thing defines them.  I display them on the wall for the first few weeks.

Another idea is the True Colors personality test.  They take a quick test to see what color they are predominantly (blue, green, gold, orange) and then we talk about what each color means.  We talk about how knowing another person's color could help us get along better, and I let them guess what they think I am.  It's fun, and as an added bonus, I get info on learning styles out of them.

  I was amazed when the fifteen and sixteen year old girls I had went nuts for creating their own family crest with their personal Knight's Errant motto when I taught "Beowulf."  We posted the shields all around my room and the parents were so tickled trying to find out who's personal motto belonged to whom.  Some got it right away, others were puzzled about the identity.  It told me a lot about their inner (and home) lives on many levels. 

They would've loved your color idea.  I only taught hs for one year, but I learned that teenage girls love crafts and personality tests! 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 29, 2008 at 3:43 PM (Answer #6)

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There is also a personality test that tells you which Winnie the Pooh character you are most like. I'll look through my stuff to see if I can find the web site.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 29, 2008 at 4:13 PM (Answer #7)

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Not for kids, well, maybe some, but for fun, check out the Dante's Inferno test to see what Circle of Hell you'll be inhabiting. 

http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-inferno-test.mv

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allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted January 30, 2008 at 6:40 AM (Answer #8)

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I've done a couple of things on the first day that I like. One year, we read a vignette "My Name" from House on Mango Street. After we talked about it, the students then had to write a piece on their name, how they feel about it, etc. That assignment always helps me learn all their names on the first day.

Since I had many of the same kids the following year, I tried another assignment. We read the first few pages from The Things They Carried. Once we talked about why the guys carry such different items, each student had to write about the items in their bag and how those items describe them. You learn some very interesting facts!

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 7, 2008 at 11:35 AM (Answer #9)

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I love to do the survey that comes on at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.  It gets all the kids to share information without them having to stand in front of the class.  As I teach older kids, the 30 seconds I allow them to share their favorite curse word really breaks the ice.  Then I make them come up with a clean version of it, and we have many laughs.  Here's the website:

http://www.thekingofbroadway.com/actorsstudioquestionnaire.html

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 19, 2010 at 1:27 PM (Answer #10)

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Based on #8, I have extended this to focus on the meaning of the name. I have also used Name Bingo with great success, where I do a very general bingo board with about 25 squares and get them to go around talking to other people and try and fill in all their bingo squares with a name of someone who satisfies that requirement. Good fun and I as a teacher can get involved too!

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