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2 Effective Icebreaker Activity Examples

The purpose of this article was to plan and outline 2 thoroughly thought out online literacy icebreaker activity examples, reflecting on the criteria used in the design process, while also providing a rationale for its effectiveness. Appropriately framing a lesson with an icebreaker activity is a useful technique in establishing context in which new learning will take place. The initial experiences students have with any course establish the tone for future tasks. Learner reactions to these icebreaker activity tasks can often indicate quickly those who will be successful and those who may struggle.
2 Effective Icebreaker Activity Examples

Icebreaker Activity Examples: eLearning Style 

Beginning an online course with an icebreaker activity has a number of benefits such as reducing learner anxiety, fostering creativity, and enhancing an effective learning environment. Beginning course activities should encourage interactions and allow learners to communicate freely to develop relationships and discourse vital for learning online.

Icebreaker Activity #1

  • Task: Acrostic Poem – 1st introductory task for the beginning of an online course within a Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Objectives.
    The learners will write an acrostic poem using the letters of the learner’s first name. The learner will reflect on the acrostic poem of one other learner by providing one comment and asking one question of the other learner. Learners will then be required to interact with their partner by reflecting on the comment and question posed to them about their poem.
  • Method.
    Asynchronous/Synchronous.
  • Materials. 
    • Online discussion board (Blackboard CourseSites, Google docs, etc.).
    • Video/audio presentation.
    • Google spreadsheet (or other link or tech enhanced tool).
  • Preparation.
    Prior to the start of the literacy course an activity page for the icebreaker, within Blackboard CourseSitesGoogle Classroom, or other Learning Management System, will be created entitled “Acrostic Poem Icebreaker”. A Google spreadsheet will be created and linked within the Learning Management System course for learners to place their names and find partners interested in completing the task. A discussion thread will be created within the Learning Management System course entitled “ACROSTIC Poems”.
  • Process.
    Learners will enter the selected Learning Management System and select the activity entitled “Acrostic Poem Icebreaker”. Once on the activity page learners should find written instructions as well as a video presentation describing the icebreaker activity, the objectives, and the expected learner performance outcomes. The video presentation and written instructions will provide learners with specific directions on how to participate and locate their activity partners. Learners will submit their poems using the discussion board forum and to submit their reflective comment and question about their partner’s poem. Finally, learners should reply to the question and comment posted about their poems.
  • Anticipated Activity Steps. 
    1. Enter the Learning Management System.
    2. Select the “Acrostic Poem Icebreaker” activity.
    3. View the video presentation.
    4. Read the written instructions.
    5. Select the link or tool which will allow you to select an available partner.
    6. Enter the discussion board and thread to add your Acrostic poem.
    7. Locate your partner’s completed Acrostic poem and reply to it with a comment and question. (If you are choosing to participate but do not have a partner, please post your poem and then comment and question the poem of your instructor.)
    8. Finally, learners should reply to the question and comment posted about their poem (with at least 100-150 words).
  • Facilitator’s Notes.
    This activity is designed to take two online days, and as long as learners participate, learners will be successful. It will work with virtual classes of any size and any odd student will be paired with the instructor. Participates who choose not to participate should receive an email from the instructor offering guidance and support along with information about why icebreaker activities are so important.

Task #1 Reflection: The first activity appropriate for the first few days of an online course would be a common “about me” task. This is a very easy introductory activity, which requires little preparation and enables learners to contribute to the course, share, and feel engaged immediately beginning the course. Learners are expected to sign into Blackboard daily, and encouraged to participate. Because this activity task requires little preparation from the instructor and since learners are given an opportunity to be creative, learners should feel successful within the first two days of participating in the course. Learners should login to the course discussion board and ask questions of each other, posting comments, completing tasks, or emailing. One advantage to this task is the ongoing discourse, which may develop, from the discussion board posts and task expectations. Another benefit of this task is that it requires learners to pay special attention to the poems of others, their comments, and questions posed to them in order to provide a clear and engaged reply.

Icebreaker Activity #2

  • Task: What Disney Character Are You – 2nd introductory task for the beginning of an online course within a Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Objectives. 
    • Learners will complete a personality survey to determine which Disney character they are most like.
    • Learners will write a short reflective essay summarizing the results of the personality survey.
    • Learners will reply to another learner’s reflective essay and demonstrate appropriate interactivity within this task.
  • Method.
    Asynchronous/Synchronous.
  • Materials.
    A Learning Management System (BlackboardGoogle ClassroomEdmodoSchoology, etc.).
  • Video presentation.
  • External personality survey links:
  • Preparation.
    Prior to the start of the course an activity page will be created entitled “What Disney Character Are You”. Additionally, a discussion thread will be created within the Learning Management System course entitled “What Disney Character Are You”.
  • Process.
    Learners will enter the selected Learning Management System and select the activity entitled “What Disney Character Are You” located on the left pane of the online course window. On this activity page learners will find written instructions and a video presentation describing the icebreaker activity, the objectives, and the expected learner performance outcomes. The video presentation and written instructions will provide learners with instructions on how to complete the Disney survey and essay. Learners will be instructed to submit their reflective character essays using the discussion board forum. Finally, learners will use the discussion board to reply to another learner’s character reflection essay.
  • Anticipated Activity Steps. 
    1. Enter the Learning Management System.
    2. Select the “What Disney Character Are You” activity.
    3. View the video/audio presentation.
    4. Read the written instructions.
    5. Select and complete one of the survey links provided.
    6. Once you have identified the Disney character you are most like, enter the discussion board, and add your character reflection essay following the provided rubric (with at least 200-300 words).
    7. Finally, reply to another learner’s character reflection essay (using at least 100-200 words).
  • Facilitator’s Notes.
    This activity will work with virtual classes of any size and is scheduled to last no more than 3 online days. Learners who choose not to participate should receive an email from the instructor offering guidance and support along with information about why icebreaker activities are so important.

Task #2 Reflection: The second activity task seems appropriate for the last few days of the first week. This should be a fairly easy introductory activity, which requires little preparation by the instructor. It is meant to be a fun task and enables learners to share and reflect on the Disney character they are most like.  Just like with the first activity task, learners are expected to visit the Learning Management System daily and in this task are expected to complete one of the Disney surveys, login to the course discussion board, and write a reflection essay. One advantage that continues to be a possibility is the ongoing discourse, which may develop. This task, like the first, requires learners to pay close attention to written forms of communication and be able to reflect clearly in writing what they have read and understand.

Conclusion

The goals of the icebreaker tasks are to build rapport between course participants and create a connection between the overall course literacy objectives. Both of the activities presented are designed to connect learners to literacy skills and practice. The activities were similar because they are both conducted in synchronous and asynchronous ways depending on the learners themselves. Each has a distinctive approach to encouraging interactivity between learners despite being similar to one another. The means for completing these tasks are through the course discussion boards or Learning Management System; however, the instructions were provided in visual/audio and written form. This addresses both the visual and auditory learners as well as the logical and solitary preferred learning styles. All introductory tasks should be created to meet a variety of learning styles to include social learning, although many of the tasks could be completed virtually intrapersonally even though they were created with social characteristics. Each icebreaker task encourages learners to communicate within the course, and fosters the anticipated results expected from introductory activities such as these.

References: 

  • Chlup, D. T., & Collins, T. E. (2010). Breaking the Ice: Using Ice- breakers and Re-energizers with Adult Learners. Adult Learning, 21(3/4), pp. 34-39.
  • Collard, M. (nd). Team builders & Icebreakers. University of Central Missouri: Learning to a Greater Degree, pp. 1-54.
  • DeSelits, L. D., & Dickerson, P. S. (2008). Using icebreakers to open communication. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 39(7), pp. 292-293.
  • Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey: K-12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning. Speak Up 2011 National Findings: K-12 Students & Parents. (2012). Project Tomorrow, pp. 1-17.
  • Tucker, C. (nd). 8 icebreakers adapted for online student communities, part 1. Collaborize Classroom, pp. 1-4. Retrieved from http://files.simplek12.com/downloads/IcebreakersPtI.pdf
  • Zigmond, R. H. (2008). Ask a provocative question to break the ice. College Teaching, 56(3), pp. 154-155.
 
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