Melting the ice: Engaging and educational ice-breaker activities for every learning session
The first five minutes of a classroom experience are critical.
The tone set in a session’s opening minutes can significantly impact and influence, in both positive and negative ways, the quality and nature of the subsequent learning experience.
How students spend that time can also have a positive impact on their learning in both the short and long term. When the opening minutes of a class are approached as an opportunity to build student connections, collaboration, and community, all learners benefit.
As more and more learning experiences occur in synchronous and asynchronous online learning environments, strategies that both welcome students to online sessions and support student learning are increasingly important.
Traditional ice breakers, while typically shared with a goal of building community and student engagement, can sometimes have unintended or even negative consequences on students.
This text shares a collection of powerful, opening activities that are designed to simultaneously engage students, build safe and connected classroom communities, and support student learning.
All strategies are easily adapted and personalized to fit individual course and content needs including face-to-face, synchronous online, and asynchronous online learning contexts. Shared activities are aligned with associated learning-science research and incorporate strategies that have been shown to support student engagement and learning such as retrieval practice, active recall, spaced practice, and interleaving, among other evidence-based instructional strategies.