Icebreaker Grab Bag

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Icebreakers are typically quick, low-stakes activities that encourage students to become more familiar with their peers. Many instructors do an ice-breaker on the first days of class to learn students’ names. However, frequent use of icebreakers on a daily or weekly basis can assist in building community as your students come to know one another better. Having all students speak and participate at the beginning of each class can also positively impact overall participation in classroom discussion. This collection of icebreakers provides a variety of activities to choose from and implement throughout the semester.

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Web of Connectedness

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In this activity, the class sits in a circle while the facilitator poses a discussion question or questions. A ball of yarn, twine, or string is passed to each person who speaks. After a participant speaks, they hold on to part of the string and pass or toss the ball to the next speaker. By the discussion’s end, the string will form a web between the students, showing who spoke. This can be used as an icebreaker activity with a low-stakes question like “what is your favorite hobby?” or to track the discussion of more course-centric topics.

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The Five Minute Poem

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This activity has students spend five minutes writing a brief four-stanza poem about where they are from. The poems can be shared in the large group as students introduce themselves to the class, in pairs or small groups, or could be posted to a class blog or forum. This activity can also be used as a prompt for a discussion about how where students come from impacts them in the classroom.

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Personal Identity Wheel

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The Personal Identity Wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers. The worksheet prompts students to list adjectives they would use to describe themselves, skills they have, favorite books, hobbies, etc. Unlike the Social Identity Wheel, this worksheet doesn’t emphasize perception or context. It is best used as an icebreaker activity or in conjunction with the Social Identity Wheel in order to encourage students to reflect on the relationships and dissonances between their personal and social identities. The wheels can be used as a prompt for small or large group discussion or reflective writing on identity by using the Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity.

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