My blended learning book for secondary teachers continues…

Every teacher has experienced the sinking feeling that accompanies a moment in second semester when a student in his or her class does not know the name of another student in the class, despite sharing a room for four months. Teachers internalize this as their failure to create opportunities for students to get to know each other at the start of the school year. Most teachers value ice breakers and love the idea of encouraging relationships between students. Unfortunately, the time it takes to facilitate these fun activities is usually sacrificed due to time constraints. Teachers feel immense pressure to get started on their curriculum at the start of the year to ensure they get through it all.

Another reason some teachers, myself included, hesitate to start the year off with a variety of unstructured fun activities is that they are attempting to establish a tone for the class in the first few weeks of school. Ice breakers invite unstructured conversations that can be challenging to manage when a teacher is just getting to know students and establishing acceptable behaviors in class.

Breaking the Ice in Online Discussions:

blended learning Using online discussions can free teachers from the time constraints and classroom management concerns that tend to curb these fun social “get to know each other” activities at the start of the year. It also provides a space for students to engage in these conversations that do not create lots of noise or chaos in the physical classroom.

Plus, these non-academic conversations are a great opportunity to practice the Dos and Don’ts of Student Online Communication. Teachers can pull examples of strong responses and share them with students as examples of what they should be striving towards. Missteps online can also be gently highlighted to ensure they do not continue…

Online icebreakers and community building activities are also discussed in this chapter…

I welcome questions, comments, feedback!

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