Using Icebreakers in the Classroom

find someone who

Icebreakers are a great resource in the educator’s toolkit and can serve a number of purposes when working with all kinds of groups.  Usually, icebreakers are used when a group meets for the first time, yet we have been using them regularly in our literacy groups to:

  • Help develop confidence with listening and speaking in a group
  • For encouraging the group to get to know each other better
  • To develop creative thinking and using your imagination
  • As a prompt to the work you may do in the classroom. The icebreaker could link to a reading text or writing exercise you may be covering
  • A chance to try something different if you reach a stalemate in your teaching and learning
  • For fun!

As it is coming to the end of term, we have made a comprehensive list of icebreakers we have used in the classroom during the year.  They can be adapted to suit the level, pace and interest of the group:

NAME AND INTRODUCTIONS ICEBREAKERS 

Gestures name game – stand up and say your name and make an action or gestures ‘My name is Tom and I like to play football’ while doing the action of kicking a ball. Everyone in group must remember the name and also the action.

Adjective name game – Think of a positive adjective to describe yourself with the same sound as the first letter of your name, eg. ‘I am fantastic Frank!’, ‘I am easygoing Elaine.’

Throw object/beanbag name game pattern – Everyone stand in a circle and throw a beanbag/soft toy/juggling ball to one person.  Say the person’s name as you throw it to them. See if you can remember the pattern of who you threw it to and repeat the same pattern.

Toilet paper game – Handout a roll of toilet paper and encourage group to take as many sheets as they like.  Once toilet roll is handed back to facilitator, the facilitator asks group to tell us as many things about themselves based on the number of sheets they took! For example, if they took three sheets, say three things about yourself.

Introduction Icebreaker – Choose a letter from alphabet to describe something about yourself – your hobby, what you like/don’t like, something you have done in the summer, your hopes and dreams.

Find someone who – (see picture above) Make a list of details about someone and walk around the room and tick which of them applies to anyone in your group!

MEMORY/ATTENTION ICEBREAKERS 

Memory / Kims game – Put a number of objects (usually about 12) on a tray in the middle of the room. Allow group to look at it for 2 mins. Cover objects and see who can remember them all.  More importantly, how did you remember all the objects? Did you group similar items to help you remember?

Tell the person beside you one thing you like about them. Share in larger group.

SPEAKING ICEBREAKERS 

One thing true – one thing false about yourself! We have to guess which are truths and which are lies! For example ‘I have two children and I went to Australia last year’ – two children is true, Australia trip is a lie.

Finish the story starting with one word. For example, facilitator says ‘tomorrow..’ and next person picks with story by adding one word only.  May also use phrases.

Chinese Whispers – One person in group whispers a sentence and each person passes it on to see if message gets delivered.

The lighthearted debate or either/or icebreaker – A fun exercise but can be used before exploring a more serious debate or discussion! Here are some lighthearted debate topics:

Tea of Coffee? / Spicy or Mild? / Hot or Cold? / North or South? / East or West?Water or Wine? / Bath or Shower? / Standing or Sitting? / Apple or Orange?Classical or Rock? / Comedy or Drama? / Take Out or Eat In? / Shoes or Bare feet / Ocean or Pool? / Hotel or Camping? / Books or Magazines? / Email or Snail Mail / Drive or Fly? / Country or City? / Mobile Phone or Landline? / Pants or Shorts?Meat or Vegetarian? / Dog or Cat? / Pepsi or Coca-Cola? / Man United or Liverpool? / Chocolate Cake or Cream Cake?

CATEGORIES AND CONCEPTS ICEBREAKERS 

Name a city, name a fruit, name a county, name a city, name a day of the week, name a month, name a food, name a piece of furniture, name something you wear, name a type of transport

Favourite food icebreaker – Go around room an ask everyone to describe their favourite breakfast, dinner, snack, dessert, drink.

Riddles – Write out riddles and answers on paper and encourage group to read them. Everyone else has to guess the answer. Some examples are:

  • What has a single eye but cannot see? Answer: A needle
  • I’m light as a feather, yet the strongest man can’t hold me for more than 5 minutes. What am I? Answer: Breath
  • I begin with T, end with T and I have T in me? What am I? Answer: A teapot
  • What belongs to you but others use it more than you do? Answer: Your name
  • I can travel around the world while staying in a corner. What am I? Answer: A stamp

Opposites – Make a list of opposites (hot/cold, open/closed, etc), cut them out on card and ask group to walk around the find their opposite!

Alphabet icebreaker – all line up in alphabetical order with first letter of your name

Birthday line up icebreaker – all line up in order of when your birthday is during the year (January birthdays at start of line, December at end and so on)

Rhymes – write a list of words on separate card. Put words in a box or envelope.  Each person picks out a word and must think of a rhyme for this word, Foe example, if they picked out the word ‘night’ the rhyme they may come up with is ‘sight’, etc.

IMAGINATIVE ICEBREAKERS 

If I was…..

  • If I was a day of the week, I would be….
  • If I was a famous person, I would be……
  • If you were on a desert island – what three things would you bring?
  • If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
  • If I was an animal, I would be……
  • If I was a colour, I would be…….
  • If I was president for the day, I would….
  • If I won 10 million I would….

If you could make a phone call to anyone in the world – famous, living or dead, who would it be and why?

 

adult african american woman business businessmen

 

 

A Student Perspective on Voting and Elections

The election coming up next Friday 24th May has brought politics into focus in the classroom.  Many are wondering what the difference between the local, European and divorce referendum means and we have been doing some work here in the centre in preparation for it.

A DALC student Patrick, gives his insights into why people can feel disengaged from politics and he shares his advice on the importance of making your vote count.

Firstly, we hear from Patrick about why he thinks there is a low voter turnout in the Dublin 1 area:

 

 

Patrick tells us why he feels people don’t engage with politics and what politicians can do about it:

 

Patrick gives us his view on The Constitution and why it needs to reflect the changing society in Ireland:

 

Finally, Patrick gives us his advice on why people should get out and vote in the upcoming election on Friday 24th May:

We had a recent visit in DALC from The Referendum Commission. Click on the link below to read the newspaper article about it:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/divorce-vote-we-re-changing-the-constitution-that-people-died-for-1.3892143 

 

 

 

 

person dropping paper on box
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Discovering Words

This is a story written by one of our students Paul.  He describes what it felt like to come to reading and writing classes.  Paul is a fantastic student and loves to do art, gardening and making things in his spare time.

His story powerfully captures what it feels like to come back to learning:

Paul H

 

 

Students of Mountjoy Square: Frewoini

Frewoini is a literacy and language student from Eritrea.  She is one of our most enthusiastic and motivated students here in DALC.  She comes to classes here every day.

20190329_110746

 

Here Frewoini talks about how independent she has become with her reading and writing. Now, she can go to lots of places. She can take a taxi and she can go to the GPO (General Post Office) alone.  She feels part of the centre and is making lots of friends here.

 

Frewoini finishes by telling us how coming to classes has given her more choices in life. She is planning to work in the future but more importantly, she is minding herself and she is happier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifts in Perspectives: What We Learned From Our Trip To Iceland

 

plates

 

The Thingvellier National Park is one of the most renowned tourist trips in Iceland.  It is about 45 kilometers north east of Reykjavik and part of the very popular Golden Circle tour.  The park marks the ridge caused by the separation of  two tectonic plates, where the two continents have moved – the Eurasian and North American continents. The scenery is stunning, creating an awe inspiring feeling of smallness.  It feels like a glimpse into history, a stunning vista that leaves you feeling this: that our short lives are only drops in the oceans of time.  This, by the way, is far from a gloomy prospect, more of a liberating experience.  It makes you realise with an optimistic sense of urgency that we can only do what we can with the short time that is given to us. It is a reminder to use it wisely.

We in DALC found ourselves in Iceland as part of a trip organised by the Erasmus Plus training programme to attend a three day workshop delivered by Planet Youth.  We had read a little about the Icelandic Prevention Model, as it gained some coverage in the Irish media.  The model was a commitment to reduce substance abuse among adolescents in Iceland.  The rate of teenage drinking back in the late 1990s was much higher and the model was developed as a way of tackling this.

How did they do it and what can we learn?

The model worked by committing to changing the social environment over time. It was a long term preventive plan that believed change was possible.  Instead of relying on the ‘just say no’ approach or on programmes delivered in schools, they decided to take a community approach – namely, to change the environment that would make such misuse impossible, taboo and ultimately unlikely.

We tend to place the responsibility on the individual to carry out their own prevention, but in the Icelandic Model – society is the patient. We know that some individuals and indeed some communities are more at risk of substance abuse and therefore it the culture of a community that needs to change.

Iceland is a story of change – a different story after 20 years.  It is about having the vision to change that story.  In the future, could we be telling a different story in Ireland?

It was this seismic shift that was needed to change the culture that had built up in Iceland and had allowed such misuse among teenagers to take place. The model is set on three pillars – 1. research (collecting data about the issues out there. With information we can examine the realities of our own community, rather than blindly making assumptions) 2. policy changes and 3. dialogue between people who worked for and with young people –  families, schools and communities.

In a nutshell, the model centers about directing adolescents and teenagers towards other pursuits – structured sports and classes.  They provided a Leisure Card that became a national policy used by all young people.  The involvement of the whole community also plays a significant role. Parents need to be involved in positive monitoring of their children, in spending more time with their children – not only for monitoring but to better develop relationships.  It involves having a supportive culture among parents to ensure they all think in the same way about substance abuse, freedom and safety.  It makes it easier to stop your child pushing the boundaries of trying alcohol or cannabis for the first time if all the others parents are on the same page. The model also centers around school engagement and developing positive peer group relationships.

Like all good ideas, entirely simple approaches yet ones that need to be driven by hard work and commitment as well as a positive buy-in from all members of the community.

waterfall iceland .jpg

What application does this model have for us here in Ireland? We know alcohol is a huge part of Irish culture and something we may find hard to challenge. A little like the way they think about guns in the US, we are not aware of how alcohol plays a central role in all our lives and this has to filter down to our teenagers. Some places in Ireland have already began to adopt the lessons from Iceland and many other places we hope will do the same. There is great work being done already through lots of organisations who work in substance abuse prevention and addiction services. Some fantastic prevention work is already being done in schools, families and communities.

The Icelandic model sees society as the patient, rather than blaming the individual for negative outcomes.  The prevention model focuses on altering the social and organisational environment that makes substance abuse impossible.

We as adult educators could begin this shift in changing cultural norms, or in envisaging the possibility of such a change in the first place. We can begin this important conversation and start moving the landscape through local meetings, parenting and education groups, to share the lessons learned in Iceland.

The Icelandic model was rooted in a vision to change the patterns of behaviour and the cultural norms, from government policy, to communities and to families. They had a plan to change what some people initially found impossible.

One evening on our trip, we walked to The Grotta Lighthouse – the place where local Icelanders go to see the Northern Lights. It was one of the coldest walks I can remember. We thought of turning back, we wondered was it worth it. At one point we lost our way as it was dark and Google maps had failed.
Yet our will to see the spectacle of the lights kept us going. We had a plan, we had a goal and so we kept going.  With a sense of purpose and working together, we got there in the end.

It is amazing what can be achieved when we do not lose sight of our vision.

northern lights

Training funded by: 

Image result for leargas

Find out more at:

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/node_en 

https://www.leargas.ie/

https://planetyouth.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Is…..

letter blocks
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Who can define learning? What does it mean?

We asked some of our students to tell us what learning means to them. As we start back into the new learning week in DALC after our long St. Patrick’s weekend, we can focus on learning in our different classes yet remember that the benefits and joy of learning for everyone is individual.

This is what some of our evening students told us recently when we asked ‘What is Learning?’:

“Learning is freedom.” Patrick.

 

“Learning is all about broadening your mind and also working your brain harder.  It helps your everyday life. It’s good for our education and to tell us what is going on in the world.” Elizabeth.

 

“Learning is the way out of poverty.” John.

 

“Learning is a discovery of knowledge.  Even in everyday life you are learning.” Anon

 

“Learning is very good for you.  It broadens your mind and it stands to you in the future because when you get older you can remember all you are taught. ” Fran.

 

“Learning is good but it is sometimes very hard because I find it hard to remember. Then again, it must be working because I thought I would never read a novel or two, or 52!” Philip.

 

Heading in to your next few weeks of learning – what does learning mean for you? Bring it on!

library photo
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

 

A Visitor to DALC from Finland

I am Heli from Finland and I was doing a job shadowing period in DALC for one week. During this week I was learning a lot about adult education, basic skills learning and empowerment. I got to observe different kinds of classes with different teachers and also participated in the teaching.  I had really good conversations with teachers about their values and teaching methods. I also learned the importance of dialogue and how they called it “The art of thinking together.”

 

I noticed that it is really important to create a safe space for learners in the classes. Teachers started their classes by asking everybody how they are doing. After class they asked ”Did everybody get a chance to speak?” so people would feel like they became noticed and their voice is as important as everyone else.

 

The thing I was most impressed about during my period was the strong community-based idea in the centre. The centre is for adult education but at the same time it is so much more! It seems to be a really important meeting-place for people where they can share their joys and sorrows. People of different cultures and ages were friends together and truly wanted to help and encourage each other.

 

I really want to start building a similar culture to the centre where I am currently working. Also peer support was played a really big role among participants in DALC. The really welcoming, warm and caring ambiance makes the empowerment possible.

Travelling to an other country develops you as a human and helps you to see things with different perspectives. DALC does really great and valuable work with a big heart! I was so lucky to get this chance to learn from teachers, meet amazing people and being warmly welcomed.

By Heli Lahtinen who works in an adult support centre in Tampere in Finland – link here: http://www.valo-valmennus.fi 

 

heli chocolate