Breaking the Ice – Warm up Student Engagement from the Start

You’ve developed your syllabus, printed your class roster, and set up Blackboard for your course this semester.  You feel ready to roll.  But have you thought about the benefits of an icebreaker activity on the first day of class?

Think about the fact that a group of strangers, with the capacity to affect one another’s wellbeing, will be spending a great deal of time together in the course, and likely the program, over the coming weeks and months.  Icebreaker activities are get-to-know-you activities that offer an opportunity for students to positively engage with one another right from the start of the course.

Many positives from an initial icebreaker activity will benefit students and the instructor for the duration of the semester:

  • Comfort – Icebreaker activities enable students to let down their guard, move past any initial apprehension, and arrive at a comfortable state for learning.
  • Rapport – Students will feel that their instructor cares enough to get to know them; that they are more than a Student ID number in a classroom seat.
  • Camaraderie – Students interact positively with their classmates, and this connection with classmates will serve them well in the form of future study groups, projects, and activities throughout the semester.

Google icebreaker activities for college students, and you will find many options that are easy to implement at the start of your next course.  Doing the right things first and the first things right with a relationship-fostering icebreaker activity will set the stage for positive student engagement throughout the semester and likely even the program.

A strong cohort equals student success


A very successful cohort

A very successful cohort

How would you like to be part of a group of people, who share the same goals, help each other achieve those goals, and build long-lasting relationships while doing so? In this environment you have partners that you can share ideas with, exchange information and recourses and have a strong support group.

Am I talking about IPA?……NO…… Continue reading

Don’t forget about the kid in all of us!

brown paper bag hat

I often forget that there is a kid in all of us.  My son’s kindergarten teacher asked for parent volunteers to fold brown paper bags into hats for the kindergarteners to paint and decorate for Easter hats.  I was the only parent to volunteer so I told the teacher I would bring the brown paper bags to school with me and ask some of my students to help me.  The students I asked were more than willing to help.  We had a blast in my office trying to fold brown paper bags into hats.  I forgot there is a kid inside all of us.  My students were laughing and taking selfies.  It was a great way to take a break away from the classroom and see the students in a different light.

Engage Creative Learners

Think Outside the Box

Can college students be similar to elementary students?

  • Anxious on first day
  • Unsure if they will get along with their teacher
  • Will the class/subject be too hard
  • Excited to talk to friends
  • Not enough sleep the night before
  • Disruptive classmates
  • and the list continues…

The reasons for the items listed above may be different, but many of the symptoms are the same. After watching my daughter’s 1st grade teacher prepare young minds for learning, I wondered if I could use some of her strategies to prepare my adult learners. Continue reading

This Just In: Current Events Engage Students!


In my Anatomy & Physiology courses, the content can be heavy and detail-oriented.  Additionally, many of the classes I taught took place in the late afternoon and evening, and most students had already worked a shift before class began.  For these reasons, I finally figured out a way to help my students “switch on” or open up to learning before I began a day’s lesson: Discovery of the Week!  Continue reading