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Greetings from Cape Cod
        I would like to initiate a discussion of techniques used to help
students
and teachers get to know each other and essentially break the ice in classes
where group learning is used or where interactions of any kind are used or
encouraged. I would be happy to start. This first is probably well known.
 
1. The Interview-- I ask students to pair up with the person next to them and
   "interview" them or just talk to each other to find out why their new buddy
   is in school, what they are majoring in, what hobbies or outside interests
   they have and specifically what is their biggest concern about being in the
   class.  They have 10-15minutes to accomplish their discussion. They may write
   information down but preferably they will just chat and remember as much as
   they can.  They can talk in class or go outside, weather permitting, but must
   return at the appointed time. They then are asked to volunteer to describe
   their partner. Someone usually goes first as much to get over with as to
   participate but that breaks the ice and gets thinmgs going.
 
   I teach math so you can imagine what they response to the question about\
   their concern is. They find after a few minutes that they all have the
   same concerns and anxieties and that they have a lot in common. This helps
   them to relax and know that they are not alone in dreaded algebra.
 
2. Finding Things In Common- In groups of four I ask them to find five things
   they all have in common. I chose 5 so that they can't each pick one thing\
   and be finished. The restriction is that they cannot pick school or work
   items. They must be personal such as what music they like, books they read
   or travels etc. They then report back to the whole class their results.
 
   This is a fun excercize and I am always amazed at the things people have in
   common. This tends to open people up and get them talking to each other.
 
3. This Is ME-- I ask students in groups of 2 or more to find something in their
   wallet that would help the group understand who they are. This is a short
   10 minute excercize which also personalizes the group.   Of course there are
   the kids pictures but often people find other interesting items that even
   surprise themselves.
 
I use item 1 at the first class, item 2 when we first work in groups of more
than 3 and the last one about 2 weeks into the semester, just to stimulate the
concept of group dynamics.
 
Finally does anyone know of any good books on this subject. I would suspect that
role players and business trainers or group facilitators would be especially
attuned to this subject.
 
Please respond to the list or to me directly. I will keep track of the responses
and try to compile them. If you wish a copy please e-mail me directly and I will
 
forward you the results. Do not request the summary throught the list please or
we will wind up annoying many people
 
tpanitz@ mecn.mass.edu
Ted Panitz,   Cape Cod Community College