Do you struggle to learn your students’ names at the start of the school year? If so, this is an icebreaker activity you should try!

First, teachers create a Padlet wall, title it “Time to Take a Selfie,” and provide a prompt with questions for students to answer. Below is a list of questions I have used to encourage students to share something about themselves. Typically, I select three questions for them to answer in their post along with their names and photos.

  • Where is your happy place?
  • What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
  • What is the furthest place you have traveled?
  • What is something you like about yourself?
  • What is your favorite story (book or movie)?
  • Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix? Explain.
  • What is one thing you wish you had more time for in your life?
  • What do you do to relax?
  • When you are not at school, what do you spend most of your time doing?
  • What is your most prized possession? Where did it come from and why do you love it?
  • If you could only listen to one genre/type of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • Think about the best class you’ve ever had. What made that class so special?

Once you’ve created your Padlet wall and decided on a question or multiple questions, post your photo and response to model what you want students to do.

My students LOVE this activity, and it makes it so much easier for me to learn their names. I keep the Padlet Wall with their names and photos pulled up on my phone (and a tab on my computer) the first week of school so I can reference it throughout the day as I’m interacting with kids.

I also project the photos if we have a whole group interaction at the start of the school year, so kids can look at the images and respond to each other by name. It’s important that our entire class community value learning each other’s names and making connections. This icebreaker is a fun way to do both!

37 Responses

  1. I’m one who has a horrible time remembering. I’m definitely going to do this!!! Thanks for your he idea!!

    • I struggle with names as well. This is definitely a nice way to learn their names and a little bit about them as individuals. I can’t wait to use this at the start of the new school year.

  2. Hi Catlin,

    Now that Padlet is no longer offering unlimited padlets with the Free version, do you have any other suggestions for how to implement this activity? My fellow instructional coach and I are trying to brainstorm how to possibly use Google Drawing as a replacement to Padlet.

    Thanks for any suggestions or ideas you can provide!

      • Catlin,
        Padlet’s free version offers 12!
        Thanks for the idea about the icebreaker. I haven’t used Padlet since they made changes and when I signed in, it notified me the free version only offers 12. 12 works for me!

      • I just went on the site too, and see they have changed to only three wall creations. ugh. I will look at the alternatives you have mentioned.

      • It looks like the number of Padlet walls you can have in the free version have something to do with how much you used it previously. I have 17 Padlet walls in my free version.

        From Padlet – “We came up with the padlet limit on your account by adding the number of padlets you have made in the last three months to the number of padlets already in your account.
        The rationale behind this arithmetic was that three months worth of extra padlets would give you enough time to evaluate your options should this new setup not work out for you.”

    • Hi Christie,

      I have run into the same problem; however, I am going to use the “shelf” layout on Padlet. This will allow me to make each column a class period. Think it will be fun for the students to scroll through and see their friends responses from other classes.

      Thank you,

      • That’s a good idea! I am literally making mine now and was debating on how to set it up to accommodate all of my classes! Didn’t want to give up too many of available padlets.

  3. This is a great idea for me to get to know new teachers at the beginning of the school year in the schools in which I train! Great idea!

  4. You’ve inspired me once again. The padlet is up, I posted my example, it’s ready for the first day of class.

  5. Love the idea. My school is pretty particular about stuff so I can only use google classroom. Any ideas how to do this with that? Lol

  6. Great idea! I am new to padlet and will be trying out several questions during the first week. This selfie idea is already loaded…another padlet i created is a share out on what items they learned from the syllabus. Hopefully I can navigate this successfully. I only was able to make three, so I am assuming you just hurry and delete posts or clear wall between classes?

    • All of my old Padlet walls were grandfathered in so I don’t have to do that, Laura. I would probably combine classes on a wall rather than delete their info.


  7. Love it! Great list of questions! I’m going to try this with Padlet and Flipgrid for different classes and see which helps me more 🙂

  8. How do the kids post the selfie? Our school chrome books don’t allow
    students access to the camera. I use Padlet a lot for class discussion questions and just reuse them now that they’re charging.

  9. I have never used Padlet. I want to do this activity but with the free version. How many student selfies do you think I could fit on one Padlet wall? I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade and I am wondering if I could have a wall for each grade. I have aprox 250 students. Thanks.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I believe you get three walls with the free version, so you could make a wall for each grade level. I have never hit a limit of images on a wall and I’ve used this strategy with groups of 100+.


  10. […] Post a selfie: Credit to high school teacher Catlin Tucker for this great idea! We know our students are expert selfie-takers, so why not honor their phone skills by having them show off on the first day of school? Using phones or tablets (or even laptops), students can take a selfie and then share it to a page set up by the teacher. It could be on a Padlet, Seesaw, a class blog or Google Classroom. In addition to the selfie, students can write a little about themselves: their name (and nickname); favorite hobbies/sports/interests; and something about the subject you teach. In my English class, I want to know what books and authors they have loved in the past. In my Broadcast Media class, I want to know what kind of experience they have with movie making and/or editing. Finally, I ask them to tell me what they hope this class will be like and how I can help them be successful. […]

  11. Consider using the moderation feature for two reasons:
    1. Students became frustrated every time someone posted a comment because it moved the post they were working on around on the page, especially when using a large group.
    2. Once everyone is finished, quickly approve all the posts and have them refresh their screens. I can still hear all the oohs and ahhs and wows.

    Happy icebreaking!

  12. This is an excellent idea! Now that our school is moving fully online next semester, keeping their records such as this will help me a lot in identifying them 😂

  13. I love the Padlet idea and have already created my account and my first page to use the first week of school.

  14. What a great idea! I’ve never used Padlet, but I’m definitely going to start, and definitely going to use this ice-breaker!

  15. This sounds like a great activity to do at the start of the school year to get to know the students better. I plan on using it with my students.

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