By Teachers, For Teachers
Kickstart the new school year and break the back to school ice by helping students get to know one another through fun, digital classroom activities. Back-to-school icebreakers are a great way for students to get to know one another during the first week of school and not to mention, it’s a great way to build a sense of community within the classroom that will last for the rest of the school year. Try these five digital icebreaker ideas that will move your students into the 21st century and jumpstart your first week back to school.
A fun and creative way for students to get to know another is to make a digital collage about themselves. Students can use the free website Be funky or Fotor to create a collage about all of things they’d like to share about themselves. Students can choose different templates as well as the amount of photos they’d like to add to their collage. If they choose to use the Be Funky website, then they can even add graphics or shapes to their creation. When students are finished creating their projects, they can print them out and hang them on the wall so their classmates can get to know them better.
Instead of making your shy students build up the courage to go in front of the classroom and introduce themselves to their classmates, try moving them into the 21st century and allow them to make a video introduction. There are a few ways that you can do this. Younger students can use the website Voki to create an avatar – a character that represents themselves. Once they create the avatar, they can use it to share something special about themselves. Older students can create a short video clip using a website or app like Vimeo or Green Screen. If students use the Green Screen app, they can place themselves in any destination they want so classmates can get a clear image of where they traveled over summer break or where their favorite place to be is. Both options, creating avatars and short video clips, are fun, creative way to share information about yourself.
QR codes have become quite the trend in education these days. These little black and white, or colored scrambled square boxes that companies use as marketing tools (some even incorporate them into their corporate logos) have moved into today’s classrooms. Teachers love them because they are easy for students to create and students love them because it makes learning fun. Here’s how they work. QR codes, or “Quick response codes,” act as a shortcut to a web link. So when you scan the code with your smartphone, it takes you directly to a specific webpage. Teachers can use this fun digital tool as a way for students to get to know one another during the first week of school. Students simply create a webpage about themselves then use a website like Kaywa to make a QR code to attach to a photograph or portrait of themselves. Once the photographs or portraits are hung in the hallway, classmates can scan the codes on the pictures to learn more about each classmate.
Another fun classroom activity to help break the ice and allow students to get to know one another better is to have students use an app like Video shop or a website like Photo Peach to create a slideshow about themselves. Students can upload images or add music or sound effects to create a slideshow that represents themselves and showcases their personality. Students will love this activity, because it allows them to use their creativity and digital skills to show off their individuality, while teachers will love how easy it is for students to be able to complete this task on their own.
Social media has swept the nation, and for younger students who are not old enough to use it just yet, creating a “Fake” profile page can be a very exciting way to start the school year off. Class Tools is a website that allows users to create a “Fake” Facebook page. Students simply create a profile page where they can add friends, favorite movies, books, video games or anything else they’d like to share. When they’re done they can even print it out to share with their classmates.
Another fun way for students to showcase themselves digitally is to use the website Thing Link to create an interactive photograph of themselves. All students have to do for this icebreaker activity is upload a photo of themselves, then create links to other photos or videos that they would like to share, like their favorite music video or vacation spot.
First-week jitters can make back to school time challenging for students, so instead of using your usual go-to classroom icebreakers, try these digital getting-to-know you activities to help students get to know one another a little bit better.
What are your favorite 21st century classroom ice breakers?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, Graduateprogram.org, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com