At a Glance


  • Languages
  • Interdisciplinary

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Introduction to College English

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Writing

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Google slides or Powerpoint
  • Smartboard projection

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Brief segment of class period (< 20 mins)


In this icebreaker activity,  students answer questions about themselves individually, including:  name/preferred pronoun, program, career goals, primary language and other languages spoken, devices available to them for learning, past experience with subject, potential obstacles to success, book/film/tv recommendations, description of the college with one adjective, and a question for the instructor. 

The instructor uses this information to create an anonymized profile of the class (see slides for model) and presents these slides at the start of class 2. In response, students pair-share about the question, what was most surprising to you about our classroom community? This is followed by a brief whole-class discussion with pairs sharing out to the wider class.

If many students express that time management or anxiety are potential obstacles to success, the instructor can mention support services available to students and otherwise create a partnership with students in an open classroom environment where they know they will be valued and respected.

Instructional Objectives

  • Create the tone and establish community.
  • Condition students to course expectations by covering academic expectations (MLA, etc) and social expectations (i.e flipped classroom).

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

  • Establish a student-centred environment and a sense of community
  • Observe demographic trends
  • Answer student questions
  • Share knowledge/expertise
  • Disabuse students of certain myths (i.e. English is not my first language — do I belong in this class?  Students will see that English is not the majority first language and that many students are multilingual)
  • Introduce outside resources (student services of various sorts) in response to expressed student concerns
  • There is almost always laughter, particularly at the questions they ask of the instructor
  • Students identify with one another via common languages, programs, career aspirations, preferences for books/films/tv etc
  • Because students get full marks for completion and following directions, most start off on a strong foot; instructor can intervene and identify potential challenges with students who are late/absent and miss the assignment and/or don’t follow the instructions accurately
  • The slides take time to prepare but it is worth it 
  • Works best in a General Education classroom where students are coming from all different programs
  • Project the questions on screen and have a few hard-copy versions of the questions on hand (I often mention my green policy after they finish answering and let them know paper will be very limited in class — only possible when you have six Smartboards, probably)
  • Be strict about following directions because the assignment is also about setting expectations for success; I follow up with students who do something other than is asked
  • Follow up with student one-on-one in private if they indicate a serious concern/potential obstacle to success such as a mental health issue/learning disability etc; I have found that letting them know early (particularly in a first-semester course) about resources available and that they can talk to me as issues come up is very helpful 
  • In addition to the slides, I save student information in Google sheets for later reference; if a student drops off for some reason, I may look back on this information later


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