Class exercises that Promote Communication Between Students

Sharon Raz

Bellow are some activities that you can facilitate in class to engage students in getting to know each other and appreciate their personal stories:

1. “I AM” POEM

The goal is to demonstrate that there is much more to a person than what comes out in face-to-face encounters, to take some time for self-exploration and declaration, and allow students to get to know who is in the room with them. This also encourages participants to ask meaningful questions and find out more information about their peers. Sometimes it can be difficult to share your entire identity with someone in a first encounter because there are so many pieces to it. Think of each other as icebergs – there are a few things you can see and guess based on appearances, but most of what makes a person who they are is below the surface. Remember that this is a safe place and you can share what you would like!

1. Have all participants take a sheet of paper, and write “I am” ten times going down the page. (You may direct them to fill in the last statement with a community message such as “I am part of the Stonehill Community.”)
2. Instruct participants to fill in each statement with a true piece of their identity. Let them know they may include lighthearted fun-facts, high-risk disclosures, and other pieces of information that falls in between.
3. After everyone seems to be done (5-10 minutes), allow a minute to wrap up the poem and get ready to share it with the group.

Suggested Debriefing Questions

  1. How did it feel to share a wide range of information?
  2. Were there pieces that you left out? Why?
  3. How did you decide what to share about yourself?
  4. Did any of your peers’ responses surprise you? Why?
  5. Would you have written different responses in another setting? Explain.

Things to Consider

  • Participants can choose to disclose high or low risk responses. Be open to anything that participants may want to share, and encourage them to say what is important to them at the time of the activity.
  • Encourage participants to repeat this activity at a later time, as responses often change.
  • Sometimes participants take this opportunity to express their creativity. Encourage this, and be ready for rhyming, rapping, and other creative expressions.

2. WHAT’S IN A NAME?

This activity will allow participants to disclose some personal information about their heritage. The activity focuses on names and what they mean to individuals. This also encourages participants to ask meaningful questions and find out more information about their peers.
One of the first things we are given after we are born is a name. Knowing a name can mean knowing a person.

  1. Have all participants take a sheet of paper, and write their full name on the top – this can include middle names, hyphenated names, given names, nicknames (usually in parenthesis), religiously assigned names, cultural adaptations of our names, etc.
  2. Instruct participants to pair off with someone they do not know well (in a small group, the entire group can share right away).
  3. Ask the following questions, allowing pairs to share their answers with one another after each:
  • Does your name have any special meaning? What is it?
  • Where does your name come from?
  • What does your name mean to you?
  • Do you have any nicknames? What do they mean to you?

4. Allow participants to switch partners. (Repeat steps 2-4.)
5. Allow 2-4 participants to share their own responses to the questions with the group if they would like.

Suggested Debriefing Questions

  1. What are 1-2 words that describe what this activity was like for you?
  2. How did it feel to answer questions you may never have been asked?
  3. Was there information that you left out? Why?
  4. Did any of your peers’ responses surprise you? Why?
  5. Did you have any preconceived notions or assumptions about anyone’s names before the activity?

License

Share This Book