One of my favorite activities at the beginning of each semester is to pose a question to all of the students in the class and have each student respond individually. Logistically this works better with a smaller class. For example, on the first day of class students take turns stating their their name and major, and naming one fun activity that they engaged during the break.
I do this exercise for the first couple of days in the beginning of the semester, and then periodically throughout the semester. There are multiple benefits to this exercise.
1. I learn students names.
2. This exercise sets up an environment where speaking in class is not only encouraged, but expected, which makes students more comfortable speaking in class. This is especially important if you would like students to participate in classroom discussions.
3. Students get to know their classroom cohort and it gives a platform to develop collaboration.
4. Students learn the skills of listening and follow through with verbal instructions.
5. Taking a break and having a question round boosts the energy of the class.
Some of the question that I have used in the past:
– Last thing that you watched on TV.
– Favorite book/movie/TV show/ etc.
– Fun plans for the coming up holiday/break.
– Plans after graduation.
– Interest in the field/subject matter.
– I also take suggestions from students.
Even though it does take a few minutes in the beginning of class I feel that that the effort is rewarded exponentially throughout the semester.