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  #1  
Old 08-16-2004, 09:17 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Students your favorite Ice Breakers from Profs? Any really memorable?

Well we are coming to that time of year again...and as with evry year since I started teaching full time, I have tried t make the first day of every class every year a memorable one. Even when I am teaching upperclassmen who have had me before, I always try to do something new...Because I have been teaching for nearly 10 years at my current institution, I am running low on things to do...some are time honored and can be done with every incoming freshman class. Such as who you are, where you are from, etc...etc... however, as with last year there are more invasive ice breakers that I really have to think about...such as one of my favorites - pretending to be a student, and waiting to see who the more outgoing students are...by who pipes up first spouting the rules for when a student can legally leave class if the prof. doesn't show up... 20 minutes at the college I teach at....

So does anyone have any particularly fun ice breakers? This year I am running a small psychological test on my incoming freshmen...Often used by the FBI here it is:
Quote:
The “PIG” Personality Test

DIRECTIONS:

 On a blank sheet of paper draw a “pig’.
 You have one minute to complete- go!

INTERPRETATION:

If the pig is drawn:

 Toward the top of the paper - you are positive and optimistic
 Toward the middle - you are a realist
 Toward the bottom - you are pessimistic and have a tendency toward negative behavior

If the pig is facing:

 Left - you believe in tradition, are friendly and remember dates (Birthdays)
 Right - you are innovative and active, but don’t have a strong sense of family, nor do you remember dates.
 Facing You - you are direct, enjoy playing the devil’s advocate and neither fear nor avoid discussion


If the pig has:

 Many Details - you are analytical, cautious, and distrustful
 Few Details - you are emotional and naive, you care little about details and you are a risk taker
 Less than 4 Legs showing - you are insecure or you are living through a period of major change
 More than 4 Legs - you are unrealistic


Regarding Ear Size:

Ear Size indicates how good a listener you are - bigger the better

Regarding Tail Length:

Tail length indicates the quality of your love life - longer is better

OK...WHO DID NOT DRAW A TAIL?!?!
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  #2  
Old 08-16-2004, 02:29 PM
Knowed Out Knowed Out is offline
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Hmmm...I just remember an econ professor who came in and said
Quote:
Yeah, that's too bad about Appalachian (rival school). Oh, didn't you hear? Their library burned down. The fire got both books! <laughter> One of them wasn't even colored in yet! <more laughter>
For Halloween he tried doing his whole lecture wearing an Incredible Hulk mask, but the heat got to be too much for him.
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Old 08-16-2004, 04:22 PM
Kilvert's Pagan Kilvert's Pagan is offline
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Indiana University had a Business Law prof, Dr. Michael B. Metzger, whose lectures were famous. He wrote out the entire lecture's outline on the board (3 chalkboards' worth) before class started, then never touched the board during class. But what made him famous/notorious was that at the stroke of 8AM he would tell the most disgusting dirty joke imaginable. Sheep jokes (about Purdue, typically), veins in hot dogs, sex with chickens, you name it... Upperclassmen would hang out in the back of the classroom/auditorium just to "catch the monologue", then run off to their own 8AM classes.

Probably not something that would work in these PC days, but it worked then (late 70's). We were ALL on time for class.

And Dr. Metzger periodically won "instructor of the year" honors at IU.
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Old 08-16-2004, 04:32 PM
asterion asterion is online now
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I haven't really had any professors do an ice breaker, but there was a bit of one from one of my religion professors. He started off the class telling how Jewish children started out learning Hebrew, then passed around candy. The idea was that education is sweet, or something like that.
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Old 08-16-2004, 05:15 PM
Spavined Gelding Spavined Gelding is offline
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I am told that there was a professor at Drake University at Des Moines who opened his first lecture of the new year by announcing that he gives the same final exam every year, same questions, same answer choices – anyone who wants a copy of the test and last year's answer sheet can pick them up at his office, but it will not do any good because he changes his mind about the right answers – last year’s right answer will be this year’s wrong answer.
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Old 08-16-2004, 05:20 PM
slortar slortar is offline
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Back when I was student teaching, I'd have my students take turns tell everybody their name, something else (can't remember offhand, something generic, like major, if they had one) and the worst job they ever had. Wound up hearing some real doozies. It was fun and it gave me an idea what personalities I was dealing with quickly.
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Old 08-16-2004, 05:49 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slortar
Back when I was student teaching, I'd have my students take turns tell everybody their name, something else (can't remember offhand, something generic, like major, if they had one) and the worst job they ever had. Wound up hearing some real doozies. It was fun and it gave me an idea what personalities I was dealing with quickly.
Thank you! This is the exact premise to why ALL incoming freshman must do this when they enter my classes
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  #8  
Old 08-16-2004, 06:00 PM
Amberlei Amberlei is offline
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I had an anthropology professor who had all of us break into pairs and conduct short (~10 minute) interviews with our partners. In that time, we were supposed to learn their major, their name, and what they thought was the strangest or most unusual thing about themselves. At the end, we each stood up and introduced our partner to the class. My partner was a belly dancer majoring in english literature, but I don't remember her name.
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Old 08-16-2004, 06:46 PM
Elmer MuD/PhuD Elmer MuD/PhuD is offline
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It's great to hear that some professors actually take time and think about doing something interesting on the first day of class. I've seen a few good ones in my day.

1. Professor immediately (I'm talking first words out of his mouth) admits that it will take him a few weeks to learn our names. "It used to take me all semester, but then I learned a little trick" he continues as he opens his briefcase and pulls out a camera. Every student is pulled to the front of the class for a picture while they tell everyone their name, hometown, and favorite joke.

2. Professor comes to class slightly late, puts down his things stands at the podium and waits. He waits until everyone starts laughing due to the extended silence, quiets down, and starts laughing again. It's a theology class, and is supposed to teach us all something about how we're all afraid to be alone but we need to listen to ourselves and the silence to hear God or something.

3. HS Physics teacher goes through all the basics (intro, syllabus, etc.). Just when it seems he is about to start going into course material on the first day (not a good omen) he asks "Does anyone feel like learning Physics today? No? Good, cause I don't feel like teaching it. Let's go watch Star Wars." It wasn't planned as a first day intro, rather something he did on days he really didn’t feel like teaching.

4. One Professor, at some point in the year, sometimes the first day, would wait until ten minutes after his Intro Biology course (read all freshmen) started and burst into the room wearing a hockey mask and wielding a running chainsaw, with the chain taken off of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberlei
I had an anthropology professor who had all of us break into pairs and conduct short (~10 minute) interviews with our partners. In that time, we were supposed to learn their major, their name, and what they thought was the strangest or most unusual thing about themselves. At the end, we each stood up and introduced our partner to the class.
I've had that one, but we had specific questions to ask them, and first had to answer them based solely on their appearance.
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  #10  
Old 08-16-2004, 10:42 PM
pepperlandgirl pepperlandgirl is offline
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I wonder, am I the only one who loathes ice-breakers? I'm not there to get to know you, Prof, or to get to know my fellow students. I'm there to learn about history/english/whatever. Why are you wasting my time? Seriously, I couldn't care less about my neighbor's major or her dog's name or anything equally inane and pointless.

Anywho, my boss is the Queen of Ice Breakers and I think she makes me participate in them at the beginning of ever year just to torment me. I'll email her tomorrow and ask her what her favorites are.
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Old 08-17-2004, 02:16 AM
saramamalana saramamalana is offline
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I took a class called Intimate Relationships, it was sociology cross-listed with women's studies. I don't remember if it was the very first class, but certainly early on, our instructor told us to take a piece of paper and write down any question whatsoever that you had about sex and relationships. It was totally anonymous. So we all wrote questions down, folded the paper in half and passed them down the row. She didn't read all the questions aloud, just the ones she thought were good. Anyway, in a class like that, it was good to break the ice of discussing potentially tender subjects. That was a great class.

Phlosphr, I forget what subject you teach, but maybe you could use this idea? Whatever questions the students want to get out of the way about you or the class, they can do it anonymously. Hm maybe that actually works against your intentions. Ah well, YMMV.
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  #12  
Old 08-17-2004, 02:42 AM
QuarkChild QuarkChild is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr
This year I am running a small psychological test on my incoming freshmen...Often used by the FBI here it is:
I took your "test" for fun (before looking at the answer code.) My pig had a tail. It was kinky.

(This is probably funnier in my head than will be posted, but I'll submit it anyway.)
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  #13  
Old 08-17-2004, 03:24 AM
Carcosa Carcosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepperlandgirl
I wonder, am I the only one who loathes ice-breakers?
No, you're not the only one.

I go to the hassle of scheduling and registering, I get screwed by the price of the textbooks, and I fight traffic to get to class. Let's just skip the folksy introductions and get down to business.
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  #14  
Old 08-17-2004, 05:20 AM
Dignan Dignan is offline
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If I remember right, Phlosphr, you're a psychology professor. Maybe you could have some "stranger" come in at the beginning of class and start yelling at you for something and making a big scene about a grade from last semester and then make some loud announcement to the class about what a jerk you are. After the "disgruntled" student leaves you could say you've never seen them before and ask the class for a description of the person so that you can file a report. I'm sure you could find something in psychology about first impressions or being able to remember details (like when reporting a crime) to relate it to. After that you could tell them it was a joke.

I think that would be funny. Maybe not the best ice breaker to set everyone on edge, but funny!
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  #15  
Old 08-17-2004, 06:51 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Dignan - that is a good one. And it has much to do with psychology, specifically, individual perceptions of singular situations. That would be covered in either intro to psych or Personality. In fact I show a video of as famous study out of the University of Ohio where two groups of fans are showed the same football game. The fans are an exact cross section of people rooting for the opposite team. It is amazing to see how they both have completely differing perceptions on what actually happened. Though not well suited for an ice breaker, good nontheless.

Oh and for all those who think ice breakers waste time: It is usually written all over your face how you feel...and guess who the first ones to be called on are???
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:27 AM
devilsknew devilsknew is offline
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My junior high geology teacher earned quite a reputation with students by pulling a funny stunt with his classes. On the first day of class he had a huge pumice stone (lightest stone in the world) waiting on his desk. At a certain point during his lecture he would have a student stand up and he'd make a dramatic and overblown show of lugging the huge pumice stone (as if it weighed a hundred pounds or more) to the student. Everybody was convinced it was a huge, heavy, stone. He'd then tell the student to hold out their hands and yell, "Catch!" and let loose. Of course the student would catch it easily, to their own surprise, and the whole class would gasp.
I heard the story from my siblings, but unfortunately he stopped doing it by the time I had him. He was a great teacher and devoted his time and some considerable resources to getting me started in German (he was the teacher of a short-lived Jr. High German course that was no longer available when I attended).
He didn't have to, but he did, and it made all the difference in my life.
Thank You, Mr. Blum. God bless and rest in peace.
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:29 AM
Eureka Eureka is offline
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This is not an ice breaker in the sense I think you are looking for, but it was one beginning of the semester lecture I'll never forget. The words which follow are similar in spirit but probably not his exact words. The class was a required senior year chemical engineering course called "Plant Design".

Professor starts class by saying "I want you all to die . . . " (pause)"several decades from now, in a clean well lit room surrounded by friends and family"( shorter pause). As opposed to dying alone and friendless due to unethical or unprofessional behavior. Or dying of some disease caused by exposure to a lethal chemical. Or dying in jail of some disease or because of illegal or unethical behavior. Or dying in an explosion caused by your unprofessional behavior. or dying of poverty . . ."


He elaborated more than I can on various ways he didn't want us to die. Basically, he wants us to die in ways that had nothing to do with our chemical engineering careers. And since Plant Design had large components of professionalism, hazards awareness, and perhaps a dollop of ethics, this talk was also his "OK People, pay attention. . . this class is important" talk.
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  #18  
Old 08-17-2004, 07:49 AM
whiterabbit whiterabbit is offline
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I loathe the usual ice-breakers. I absolutely hate the name games. Don't do that to people. Going around the room telling names is okay, but I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate the stupid games.

I did, however, have a useful ice-breaker experience at the beginning of a human sexuality class. Everybody was given a word that while not dirty was the uncomfortable sort that comes up in such a class, and while I had no problem with words such as "condom" or "penis" some other people did. We had to go around and say our embarassing word with confidence. I don't remember what I had, so it couldn't have been too embarassing for me. Then the professor said something to the effect of, "You see, you said it once. So don't be embarassed about saying it again. This is a class about sex, after all."
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:51 AM
phall0106 phall0106 is offline
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I absolutely hated ice breakers. I was a "nontraditional student" (which translates into "I was in my early 30's, working part time, going to school full time, up to my eyeballs in school loans because I didn't have Mommy and Daddy footing the bill for 12 hours a week of fun and keg parties the other hours of the week, taking care of three kids and running a household singlehandedly"). Personally, I could care less who was in my class and why they were taking the class. When we would be forced to do the "let me introduce my new partner" speil, I would lie. Outright, over the top lies. I was in the witness protection program and was forbidden to divulge further information, I was the daughter of an infamous Mob Boss, I was really a guy (I'm female) whose birth name was Bob, I was newly released from a Prison-To-Work program...the list got a little bizarre each time I was forced to have a 5 minute "chat" with my "partner". What was the best part was sitting there, attempting to maintain a serious look on my face while my "partner" stumbled her way through my introduction, then for me to stand up and say, "This is Jennifer and she's a sophomore and has three brothers and a dog named Fifi. She lives on campus and like beer, beer and more beer, and balling guys whose names she can't remember when sober." (No, I really didn't say the last part--I didn't need to.)

I was so glad to graduate, however, my feelings about icebreakers still hasn't changed.
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Old 08-17-2004, 08:30 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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When I have taught classes, I have done "the dreaded icebreaker" but prefaced it this way:

"I want you to introduce yourself to me, and tell me a favorite band (and/or a favorite book or tv show) and yeah, it's a pain, and yeah, you hate icebreakers, but you know what? I have to teach stuff to you and if I get a sense of what you guys have read, watched and listened to, I know what analogies are going to work for you - so this helps me and ends up helping you. Sound fair?"

I get a much better response, and since I am reasonably current on cultural phenomena, I can follow up their statements with questions and observations and draw them out and get them comfortable talking with me from day 1. ("Really, you like Buffy - ah, but wasn't Faith cooler?" etc....)

The other thing I will sometimes do is ask "okay, how many people are in this class because they have to be?" And ask them how they are going to think about the topic to keep it at least a little interesting over the course of the class....I do that with my young son when he doesn't want to read and I get him to tell me why reading is ultimately a good thing....
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  #21  
Old 08-17-2004, 10:04 AM
TV time TV time is offline
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I had my first ever college professor (8 a.m. World Civ.) begin the class with,

"Look to your right. Now, look to your left. 2/3 of the freshmen students at this institution either flunk out or drop out by the end of the academic year. Which of the three of you do you think will be here at the end of the year? If it is not you, may I at least suggest you enjoy yourself before you head back home. It would be sad to think you did not enjoy all the advantages of a college town before heading back to Delta to tend sheep or Colorado Springs to sell used cars or to Walsenburg to do whatever one does in Walsenburg."

While it was not an ice breaker, it definitely woke us up.
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Old 08-17-2004, 10:12 AM
TV time TV time is offline
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I still haven't figured out what one does in Walsenburg.
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  #23  
Old 08-17-2004, 11:05 AM
Trigonal Planar Trigonal Planar is offline
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I'm in engineering. I only wish my instructors did ice breakers. Hell, I only wish they could introduce themselves fluently...
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:10 PM
Emilio Lizardo Emilio Lizardo is offline
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We have several physics profs who start the semester by riding into the classroom on a tricycle powered by the exhaust from a CO2 fire extinguisher; a very dramatic demonstration of action/reaction. Another classic, used to illustrate the nature of scientific inquiry: Two identical balloons are tethered to the lecture table. In order to distinguish between them, a match is held underneath each. It turns out one is filled with helium, the other hydrogen, and the difference is easily observed.
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:32 PM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TV time
I had my first ever college professor (8 a.m. World Civ.) begin the class with,

"Look to your right. Now, look to your left. 2/3 of the freshmen students at this institution either flunk out or drop out by the end of the academic year. Which of the three of you do you think will be here at the end of the year? If it is not you, may I at least suggest you enjoy yourself before you head back home. It would be sad to think you did not enjoy all the advantages of a college town before heading back to Delta to tend sheep or Colorado Springs to sell used cars or to Walsenburg to do whatever one does in Walsenburg."

While it was not an ice breaker, it definitely woke us up.
This must be something that is taught in World Civ Professor School, because my own World Civ professor said something remarkably similar. Scared the hell out of me the first semester I had him. (FTR, I got high As from him both times.)

Robin
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:34 PM
pepperlandgirl pepperlandgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr

Oh and for all those who think ice breakers waste time: It is usually written all over your face how you feel...and guess who the first ones to be called on are???
Oh wow, you're so evil and sneaky. It's as though you aren't going to call on all the students anyway. Man, if only my professors were as clever as you.

Another thing I don't understand is, we're all on a limited schedule. The students catch hell if they waste time in class talking or whatever, but profs think it's fun to waste an entire class period? In all seriousness, why do you do that? There's got to be a less annoying way to get to know students. Why don't you just have an informal Q&A, or start lecturing about something totally out there and unexpected and even educational to see what their reactions are? Or fuck, make them write an essay about themsevles. At least that way you aren't wasting class time. If the intent is to make students get to know each other, then forget about it. Trust me, they don't give a fuck. And if they did give a fuck, they'll make the effort after class to meet people and introduce themselves.

Man, just thinking about it is making my blood pressure rise. From now on, I'm going to do what phall0106 did.
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  #27  
Old 08-17-2004, 01:36 PM
AngelicGemma AngelicGemma is offline
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My favorite was

"Hello! And welcome to the journalism course. Now, I hope you all read newspapers. Okay, so who reads 'The Times'?"

*Many hands go up*

"Good, good. How about 'The Guardian?"

*Lots of hands go up*

"How about 'The Sun'?"

*A few hands go up*

"That trash? GET OUT OF MY LECTURE THEATRE!"
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:38 PM
Ms Boods Ms Boods is offline
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I was thinking of a lot of examples, my own, and those of professors I have studied and worked with since 1983.

For sheer attention getting, hands down, it's the prof at my partner's uni who introduced himself on the first day of class, and collapsed immediately from a heart attack.

He did fully recover, and finished the semester -- and apparently the students leapt into action at once, and much of his recovery was due to their prompt attention.

My partner tells me of another prof, can't remember if it were someone where he worked, or when he was at uni, poor old thing introduced himself to his class, and dropped dead. Crikey.


When I taught, I never bothered with ice breakers cos I hated them as a student; I usually just got right down to work scaring the hell out of my students.
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:48 PM
Podkayne Podkayne is offline
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There was an incident at the University of Iowa involving a class taught entirely in German, a student who apparently wasn't too gut mit der Deutsch, and viewing of a film (Taxi Zum Klo) that featured explicit homosexual sex. Watching the film was an optional activity, and not required for the class, but die Studentin did not realize that, and apparently it warped her fragile little mind.

Much freaking out ensued. This lead to the institution of something called the "Unusual and Unexpected" policy, which stated that if the instructor is going to do anything "unusual" or "unexpected" in class, (s)he was supposed to clearly announce this ahead of time (preferably in English), and provide an alternate activity for students who did not wish to participate.

My opinion on this whole thing, and everyone involved:

Anyway, like many of the faculty, the prof of a classics course I was taking the semester after the Taxi to the Bathroom incident was frothing mad at this new policy, and devoted the first day of class doing unusual and unexpected things, such as: climbing onto a table at the front of the classroom and lecturing from up there, putting on a funny hat and lecturing like that for a while, dancing a little jig as he lectured, lecturing from the back of the classroom instead of the front, lecturing in Pig Latin (mercifully for just a few sentences), and other shenanigans. Then he said that he would continue to do unusual and unexpected things all semester, and anyone who had a problem with that had a wide variety of classics electives to choose from, and probably wouldn't be happy in this one.

All told, the course was educational but quite tame, but the first day sure sticks in my memory.
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Old 08-17-2004, 01:48 PM
Stringer Stringer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepperlandgirl
I wonder, am I the only one who loathes ice-breakers? I'm not there to get to know you, Prof, or to get to know my fellow students. I'm there to learn about history/english/whatever. Why are you wasting my time? Seriously, I couldn't care less about my neighbor's major or her dog's name or anything equally inane and pointless.

Anywho, my boss is the Queen of Ice Breakers and I think she makes me participate in them at the beginning of ever year just to torment me. I'll email her tomorrow and ask her what her favorites are.
You are DEFINITELY not alone. Ice breakers are always a pointless waste of time and I hated professors/TAs who insisted on doing them.

The funniest ones are when they pass around a bag of candy (Starburst, Skittles, the like) and tell everyone to take some. So kids grab handfuls of candy thinking there will be no consequences (greed ALWAYS has consequences), and of course they have to say something interesting about themselves for each piece they took. I always know what's coming so I take none, or one if I am forced.)

I think I really resented the implication of the teacher ("I can get an idea of what kind of personality you have from a few stupid questions"), and the other implication that if not forced to get to know other students, class communication will fail miserably. I for one certainly don't need to know the guy next to me likes to play blues guitar to ask him for yesterday's notes.

Oh, I just remembered my favorite story about the get-to-know you time in one of my classes. It was a writing class, so we had to say our name, major and what kind of writing we usually engage in. Most people had the same boring answers (journalism, short fiction, the Great American Novel, etc.) except for the goth-looking kid in the back. He was dressed in all black, long black hair and he just said "I like to write comedy" and it was really one of the funnier things I've ever heard during an ice breaker.
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  #31  
Old 08-17-2004, 02:17 PM
Trigonal Planar Trigonal Planar is offline
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I don't mind icebreakers in principle, the problem I have with them is that they're often boring and lame. "State your name and say something about yourself" - BORING. If it's a genuinely cool/unique icebreaker, I'm all for it.

Also, profs who go out of their way to joke around, have fun, get to know their students are the best kind. They make class so much more enjoyable.
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Old 08-17-2004, 02:46 PM
Indygrrl Indygrrl is offline
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I think the ice breakers are kinda stupid. Unless it's the type of class that the students are going to be discussing things daily and interacting as a part of the class, then I don't see why it's necessary to have everyone introduce themselves. It makes some people extremely nervous to get up and talk, so why put them through it if it's not necessary?

Now, if the prof wants to start off with a joke or something that's fine.

Quote:
Oh and for all those who think ice breakers waste time: It is usually written all over your face how you feel...and guess who the first ones to be called on are???
As for this, I would not be amused. It's not high school, so don't treat your students like children. It's your job to teach them something, not to "call on" them and make them uncomfortable. If I'm paying my hard-earned money to take a class I'm not going to appreciate the professor trying to make a fool of me.
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  #33  
Old 08-17-2004, 03:12 PM
DeVena DeVena is offline
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In my Deviant Behavior class, we all had to stand up and give the following info:

Name we wanted to be called (first name or nickname)
Age
Complete this statement: "My mom makes me so mad when she..."

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  #34  
Old 08-17-2004, 03:46 PM
35340 35340 is offline
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The economics TA who started by calling the roll, then asking if my parents were who she thought they were (we were both recent transplants from the same town), then went on to tell the story of why fire trucks are red.

Everyone was quiet after the tale, and just looked at me. So I spoke up and asked about non-red fire trucks ...

Luckily we were her first class, ever, so she didn't end up repeating it all day ... poor kid.
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  #35  
Old 08-17-2004, 03:53 PM
Limbo Donni Limbo Donni is offline
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I'm with those who hate icebreakers.
Especially the one where you all introduce yourself or where you have to chat up your neighbor.

I go to a lot of 1 and 2 day professional seminars to keep my certification, and whenever they start with that I know the teacher is ill prepared and is filling the day the easy way.
Start with an icebreaker, throw in a few "projects" like "list your strengths & faults on this topic"... and let's all get out of here early to beat the traffic.

If I have to pay for a course I want to learn something, not get three or four time-killers.
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  #36  
Old 08-17-2004, 03:59 PM
Nonsuch Nonsuch is offline
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My creative writing prof had us do the traditional "talk to your neighbor, find out 3-4 interesting things about her etc." icebreaker, with one caveat: in presenting the information to the rest of the class, we were instructed to introduce at least one deliberate lie. And a good lie, not some harebrained whopper ("This is Mandy, and she has the gift of flight").
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  #37  
Old 08-17-2004, 04:08 PM
Ms Boods Ms Boods is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TV time
I had my first ever college professor (8 a.m. World Civ.) begin the class with,

"Look to your right. Now, look to your left. 2/3 of the freshmen students at this institution either flunk out or drop out by the end of the academic year. Which of the three of you do you think will be here at the end of the year? If it is not you, may I at least suggest you enjoy yourself before you head back home. It would be sad to think you did not enjoy all the advantages of a college town before heading back to Delta to tend sheep or Colorado Springs to sell used cars or to Walsenburg to do whatever one does in Walsenburg."

While it was not an ice breaker, it definitely woke us up.

At my orientation thingie for first year grad students, we were given the 'look around, 2/3 will be gone at the end of the first year, blah blah' speech too.

I graduated with a PhD, and I tend a flock of sheep.
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  #38  
Old 08-17-2004, 04:31 PM
bughunter bughunter is offline
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Well, my sophomore electrical engineering weeder class at CU (Go Buffs!) was Introduction to Circuit Analysis and my section was taught by the Dean of the EE Department, and scheduled at 7am.

We show up the first day, and for an icebreaker, he seats us all alphabetically. Since my last name starts with C, I was in the Front Row, Center.

Then he tells us, "I will take roll every session. You can be absent or late only once before it affects your grade."

Also, "You can miss only one homework assignment before it affects your grade."

Did I mention that I am not a morning person? That my dorm room was right across the street from the classroom, so it was far too easy to oversleep? And that I overslept the 6am final by two hours?

I was warned not to take that section. That he was the John Houseman, Paper Chase Nightmare, of the School of Engineering. But it was the only section that fit in with the rest of my schedule.

I should have listened, because I had to repeat that class the following semester...
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  #39  
Old 08-17-2004, 06:03 PM
Rilchiam Rilchiam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mynn
The economics TA who started by calling the roll, then asking if my parents were who she thought they were (we were both recent transplants from the same town), then went on to tell the story of why fire trucks are red.

Everyone was quiet after the tale, and just looked at me. So I spoke up and asked about non-red fire trucks ...

Luckily we were her first class, ever, so she didn't end up repeating it all day ... poor kid.
What's the fire truck story, and why would it bring utter silence to a classroom?
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  #40  
Old 08-17-2004, 07:23 PM
phouka phouka is online now
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The last three years, I've taught at a school so small, there's no need to do any sort of ice-breaker. All the kids know each other. As a first activity, I have them take out a piece of paper and put their heading on it, giving them the impression that they're going to get a quiz. Then I tell them to write down every curse word, every insult, every nasty saying they can come up with. Since I'm working with middle and high school students, there's usually a moment of baffled silence and then great enthusiasm as they scribble down everything they can think of. Some of them have filled up two full sheets.

Then, I tell them to title their papers "Things I Can't Say In Class".

It never fails to get numerous groans and gets them used to the idea that I don't tolerate mean behavior in my classroom.
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  #41  
Old 08-17-2004, 11:04 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Podkayne: I wonder if that's what got the infamous religion Prof. started (we're not naming names, are we?). I loved the way that he came in the first day, told us how much he despised us and then had an assistant teach the rest of the semester. Of course, he would come in from time to time and tell us about something he saw years ago on the Discovery channel or ask the ladies if Leonardo DiCaprio made them wet.

It was great. It was like having a WWF villain for a professor.
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  #42  
Old 08-17-2004, 11:21 PM
IHaveARottweiler IHaveARottweiler is offline
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You could always check this out.

I want to become a professor just so i can use number 34.
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  #43  
Old 08-17-2004, 11:31 PM
aurelian aurelian is offline
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I TA Spanish, though at Madison that means I teach it. I think ice-breakers are actually really important (I try to avoid cheesiness) because I large part of the class involves speaking: doing group exercises, having discussions with one or two other students, discussing stories they read. A good icebreaker lets them know that they will have to participate in the class, and will be spending a significant amount of time talking to their neighbors. Most of the small groups end up pretty friendly with each other as the semester goes on. Plus, the icebreaker is a good way to make them speak some Spanish on the first day (since that's all they'll speak from then on) in a very relaxed context.

My favorite icebreaker - one of the professors in the department teaches a course on Spanish (peninsular) culture and history. On the first day, he puts up a list of questions about himself - How old am I? What's my favorite movie? Do I prefer rap or country western? - rather random, silly questions. Then he collects all their answers and compiles them for the next class into percentages. He can be rather deadpan, and it is really hilarious. Again, it just helps to relieve that deer-in-the-headlights so many students can have.
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  #44  
Old 08-18-2004, 12:00 AM
Ms Boods Ms Boods is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IHaveARottweiler
You could always check this out.

I want to become a professor just so i can use number 34.
Crikey! Reading that list, I've had professors who have done some of those things! (Fortunately, never more than 1 to a prof. Unfortunately, some of them were not meant as eccentric bits of fun):

14. Wear mirrored sunglasses and speak only in Turkish. Ignore all questions.

Undergraduate music professor used to decimate his over-filled classes by coming into class wearing dark glasses and speaking 'Indonesian' for the entire first lecture.

16. Ask occassional questions, but mutter "as if you gibbering simps would know" and move on before anyone can answer.

Undergrad history prof who used to ask impossible (for an undergraduate survey course) to answer questions, then insult us for not answering.

19. Address students as "worm".

Professor at my partner's university (who was 'given' an early retirements package just to get rid of the guy, used to call his students this, and far worse to their faces.

26. Every so often, freeze in mid sentence and stare off into space for several minutes. After a long, awkward silence, resume your sentence and proceed normally.

Could be any number of professors...

31. Announce that last year's students have almost finished their class projects.

Infamous University of Minnesota history professor would assign such huge projects that students frequently carried incompletes for 2 or 3 terms! And would tell people on the first day of class to expect to have the same burden.

47. Warn students that they should bring a sack lunch to exams.

My best friend was a chem e major for exactly one term, and switched to maths after having a class with this professor.

Crikey! Now if I were lecturing again, I'd be torn between #22 and #38

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  #45  
Old 08-18-2004, 12:19 AM
hajario hajario is online now
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I have to come in on the icebreakers are a lame-ass waste of time team. I studied engineering and we didn't have time for that shit but I had to deal with it in the occasional Liberal Arts general ed class.

When I started my first job after grad school, I spent the first six weeks in a training class with twenty other newly graduated engineers. We had many instructors over that time. People taught anywhere from half a day to two days. We must have gone through the "tell me your name and something that no one else in the room knows about you" routine three or four times a week. By week five we were so sick of that shit that we were trying to outdo each other by coming up with more and more outlandish (and untrue) things.

Haj
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  #46  
Old 08-18-2004, 12:45 AM
Tikki Tikki is offline
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Philosphr, I thought your pig thing was going to be a trick question so instead of drawing a pig, I wrote A PIG. What does that say about my personality?
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  #47  
Old 08-18-2004, 07:56 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tikki
Philosphr, I thought your pig thing was going to be a trick question so instead of drawing a pig, I wrote A PIG. What does that say about my personality?
It means you should for for the department of homeland security [if not a US citizen, then for the respective department within your nationality ]

Just kidding, I've had that response before...it simply means your adept at overanalyzing.

To IHave a Rottweiler - Thank you for that list, that made my morning. I've not laughed so much in quite a while. Though not as extreme as some of those listed, I have changed my personality type from time to time to keep people on the up and up, but mostly with those classes who think they can get away with anything.

Again for those who think ice breakers have no meaning, you may or may not be forgetting your very first day of classes at Uni. To some, as a matter of fact 8 out of ten 10 incoming freshman between the ages of 17, 18 and 19 are quite nervous on their first day, and at that point ,they slate is clean, so anything I can do to relax them, I will do.

To the others who simply think this is all some kind of money wasting jest - I recommend being a little more mellifluous and a little less obdurate.
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  #48  
Old 08-18-2004, 08:50 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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I didn't actually read the thread other than skim the OP, so I apologize if I snub any readers of AIR on the SDMB.

My favorite, which I haven't seen but only read about in AIR, is the following. On the first day, bring in a short length of plain-white candy cane. Stripes will ruin the effect. Don't let any students see it. Pick up a piece of chalk and write your name on the board. While your back is still turned, switch the candy cand with the chalk. Hold up the "chalk," i.e. candy cane, and examine it without saying a word. Look "meaningfully" at the class for a moment. Then put the "chalk," i.e. candy cane, in your mouth and chew it. Then swallow it. Use a little showmanship if you've got the skills. Bonus: if you ever need to get their attention again, pick up a piece of chalk and examine it wordlessly, then look meaningfully at the class. You'll have their attention without having to eat the chalk.

I think a great variant comes from the "Kids in the Hall." Put some white, chewable mints in an asprin bottle. Come to class a minute late and say that you've got a teribble headache. Throw a couple "asprin" in your hand and chew them. Then take a small swig of water and swish it around in your mouth and swallow. OMFG, I still cringe every time I think of Gezbo the Clown doing that on the "Kids in the Hall."
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  #49  
Old 08-18-2004, 09:04 AM
slortar slortar is offline
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My God. I'm tempted to volunteer for a section or two of English this year just so I can try js_africanus' suggestions...
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  #50  
Old 08-18-2004, 09:59 AM
LibrarySpy LibrarySpy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr
so anything I can do to relax them, I will do.
Then play soft music, burn incense, and turn down the lights. Or be funny. I'm one of those ice-breaker-haters, and I remember some of them quite vividly. I'm an introvert, and rather shy, and the last thing I want to do is be put in the spotlight in front of a bunch of strangers and try to be unique on the first day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indygrrl
It's your job to teach them something, not to "call on" them and make them uncomfortable.
Exactly. You make me resent you by playing a game that humiliates me, then you use my angst to pick on me? I have no problem speaking at length on classwork or bonding with my classmates without artifice.

phall0106, the non-traditional students were always more interesting than us youths, because they'd actually lived.
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