Icebreaker: Personal Image Cut Out
Making connections with peers by sharing about yourself
This activity, or the student-centered task, is one that builds connections among students of any age. It can be implemented at the start of school year or at any point within the year, especially at the start of new quarters, after long breaks, or following a reading experience with a theme of personal connections, cultural identity or family history.
The activity uses a blend of art and writing, plus oral communication. Students of all levels can participate. There are opportunities for self expression and self reflection. Once the individual work is done--drawing and writing--a game-like atmosphere begins with students blindly choosing another student’s page. (See the instructional process and explanation of the product below.) Ultimately students connect, talk, and learn about one another.
Reusing this activity with different focuses is an option, too. The focus could be narrowed to something specific about likes/dislikes, travel experiences, food preferences, music interests. The completed pages can be displayed in the classroom or adjacent hallway. This activity also makes a great starting point for a more developed and more lengthy writing piece. It can also be used in a more therapeutic capacity for contributing information about emotions or hardships. The piece can then be shared with counselors and parents.
For this activity, the teacher will explain to the students that they are going to get a gingerbread shaped paper. Inside the outline, students will use pictures, words, drawings and sentences to fill up the space. All of the things inside the outline should represent the person who is making it. The teacher will instruct students to include something that represents your cultural background or something important to your family. An example will be given by the teacher. For example, “My family is Polish and making pierogis the day before thanksgiving is a tradition we have always had. I am going to draw a picture of the special traditions my family has”.
From there, the teacher will hold up her cutout to show the many ways you can do it. While working the teacher can walk around and ask questions about why students are choosing certain things. The teacher can use this time to guide students into deeper thinking and learn something new about them.
After work time is over, students will flip their person over to the blank side so that all of their work is face down. The teacher will then model the next part of the icebreaker where students ask each other questions. Some questions and sentence starters will be written on the board to help more students be successful. Next, they will pick up a new person outline that someone else has completed. They will get a few minutes to write down some questions that they would like to ask that person and read over their person.
Finally, students will have some time to ask their partner questions and listen to why they chose what they did to represent them. The teacher will walk around to monitor the discussions and ask some new questions.
This icebreaker would be good at the beginning of the year. However, we found it could also be useful later on as students still do not know everything about one another. This activity could also take anywhere from 30 minutes to being split up over multiple days. To make the activity shorter, use smaller figures and less time.
Activity Results for Instructional Practices
This activity is a wonderful way for teachers to explore each of their students, as well as students getting to know one another. A teacher can gain information that will help them in developing lesson plans and instructional practices that will accommodate each student and adapt these practices to their learning style. By having the students draw and write things about themselves, the teacher will understand their culture, and most importantly be able to tap into their prior knowledge. This is important so that the teacher can begin to gather instructional strategies to address each student's area of need.
This activity allows the teacher to understand each child’s individual differences. The more the teacher demonstrates that diversity is a good characteristic, the more the students will learn to accept individual differences in a positive ways. This activity is also a good visual, which is an excellent instructional practice to teach exceptional students.
The information gathered from this icebreaker activity is vital for future planning and good instructional practices for each individual student, which is important in differentiated teaching. It also builds communication skills, as well as confidence in the students, which will allow them to learn in the upcoming school year.