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The Potato Icebreaker
Can't find what you are looking for? That means a new batch of students to get to know, students who need to be made comfortable in your classroom, and who need to get to know each other. And how to accomplish this? The Trouble with Most Icebreakers I planned to create a nice big post with dozens of icebreaker ideas you could choose from. They require students to take massive social risks with people they barely know. So many of the icebreakers I found asked students to publicly share some kind of personal information. But to most kids—especially once they get into the middle and high school range—being different is the worst thing you can be. No one really gets to know anyone. So I have scrapped my plan to curate good icebreakers from the Internet. What I like about all of them is that they get students talking, but require very little social risk. I should add that I take no credit for inventing these games. I have no idea where I picked them up, but they are not original to me. This game keeps students moving and talking, and it builds a sense of belonging and community in your classroom. Here are some sample prompts you can use for this game: Line up in alphabetical order by your first names. Line up in alphabetical order by your last names. Gather with people who have the same eye color as you. Gather with people who get to school in the same way as you car, bus, walk. Line up in order of your birthdays, from January 1 through December Line up in order of how many languages you speak. Gather into 3 blobs: Gather with people who have the same favorite season as you. Pairs discuss their answers to a getting-to-know-you question, then rotate for the next question, forming a new partnership. This game gives students the chance to have lots of one-on-one conversations with many of their classmates and helps them quickly feel more at home in your class. The possibilities for questions in this kind of configuration are endless; be sure to use more open-ended questions that can get students talking, rather than those that simply ask for a yes or no answer. Here are some sample questions: Do you play any sports? If so, which ones? Do you consider yourself shy or outgoing? What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it? Describe your perfect dinner. What would you do with a million dollars? Sample questions for This or That: Would you rather live in the country or the city? Should all students be required to learn a second language? Would you rather be indoors or outdoors? Playing sports or watching sports? Would you rather travel every single day or never leave home? Want These Games Ready-Made? I have created beautiful, animated PowerPoint versions of each of these games, plus a bundle of all three. The files work on Windows and OS X platforms, and they are all editable, so you can add or change questions anytime you like.
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