Goal: Create an open classroom environment and start a dialogue with your students about the course and methods for teaching and learning.
Time: 20-30 minutes
1. Write several prompts onto flip charts and hang them up around the classroom. Here are some examples of prompts you can use, though you may want to come up with your own:
"I learn best in classes where the teacher ___"
"Students in courses help me learn when they ___"
"Why I am taking this course: ___"
"Something I want to learn/get out of this course: ___"
"Something I already know in this subject: ___"
"Something I would like to know more about in this subject: ___"
"Questions I have about this course: ___"
"I participate most in classes when: ___"
"Something that makes it hard to learn in a course: ___"
"Something that makes it easy to learn in a course: ___"
2. Provide markers that students can use to answer the prompts on the flip charts. Allow them to circle, star, or underline responses that they agree with. Give them about 10-15 minutes or wait until the flip charts are reasonably filled.
3. Debrief. Have students present the flip charts and respond to what students wrote. Address only one or two responses per chart if you're short on time. Pay particular attention to comments that were marked out by students as shared responses. Discuss with students why you've chosen this activity and see what they thought of it.
4. Take this time to share anything that you would like your students to know about you (how you wish to be addressed, your background, your personal philosophy on learning and teaching) or the course. Avoid phrases like "This is the first time that I have taught the course" or "I was only asked to teach this course a week ago," as your ultimate goal is to create a positive environment from the beginning.
This activity was originally proposed by Barbara Goza in the Journal of Management Education in 1993 and was adapted with suggestions by Faculty Focus’s “First Day of Class Activities that Create a Climate for Learning” and Lansing Community College’s “Icebreaker Activities.”