As part of the Communicating Science course that I’m currently enrolled in we’ve been doing a lot of… well, improv exercises I suppose you could call them. Activities designed to have a variety of purposes, but that almost uniformly involve actions outside of our normal comfort zones.
One of the values that I’ve found in doing these exercises is that I understand them better after participating in them (rather than just in hearing about them). They create such a sense of community between the students involved, because if you’ve acted in a very silly manner in front of everyone and lived, then you can stop being embarrassed about the possibility of making a fool out of yourself. Because you already have!
I can only imagine how engaged and cool a sophomore level discussion class might be if the students spent the first day doing these types of activities. Made me wonder… what other types of “ice-breaker” activities has anyone done to try and decrease the self-consciousness felt by their students? Any tips for getting students to willingly participate in them?