## Thursday, October 20, 2011

### Icebreakers

It is a little-known fact that I hate icebreakers. "Little-known" in the sense that I don't mention it every five minutes, but if you know me, you could have probably guessed.

Anyway. In previous years I have been frustrated that students in my classes, by the end of the school year, might not even know everyone's name in their class. So this year, I resolved to compel them into an icebreaker every time I changed the seating arrangement.

Well, first of all, what a coup if you have a lesson that depends on discussion and conversation and talking. Because, there is no teeth-pulling necessary to get people to talk about themselves for a couple minutes. And once they have broken the ice, so to speak, you don't have to worry about that component.

And second, how entertaining, and what a fun way to learn about your kids. Yesterday I changed all the seats and I asked the Geometry students (the youngest and traditionally most taciturn of my lot): if you were a Geometry vocabulary word, which one would you be and why? (with the caveat that in 5 minutes I was going to randomly select students to introduce their partner to the group.)

"A line. Because he just keeps going and going."

"A polygon. Because he has many sides."

"A circle. Because she is well-rounded."

It just went on and on. It was adorable.

deborahharry86 said...

every so often in my class i do maths speed dating. i put all the tables in a circle and they have to move round and work on problems with a new partner each time.

escowhat said...

Also used with my Geometry students:

On review day, I separate my students into pairs to work on a review assignment with 4 or 5 sections. After 10ish minutes, they switch partners based on some random question I ask.

The person with the most siblings...
The person who ate the bigger breakfast...
The person who woke up earliest this morning..
The person whose taken a vacation farthest from ...
The person with the next birthday...
...needs to find a new partner.

They have to take at least a minute to compare their lives to someone else's and learn a little about the other to determine who switches.

The second time we did this, I added a new wrinkle by having them make up an "intriguing icebreaker" question they would have to ask each new partner, and I made them briefly record the answers. Because it was their question, they took quite a bit of investment in this, and writing down their classmates responses gave them an interesting way to catalog their classmates.

On the test the following day, an optional exercise had them state their question and tell me what they learned about 3 of their classmates. They had 5 different partners on review day...so they didn't have to remember them all.

It gave some meat to the activity and by reading the answers on the test, I got to learn a bit more about my students. Fun times!