Virtual classroom icebreakers help students become more comfortable in their class. Students are then encouraged to remain actively engaged in their virtual classroom which can lead to greater academic achievement.
Importance of Using Icebreakers During a Virtual Classroom
Remote classes provide many benefits to students – access to more classes and teachers, flexibility, accommodating specific needs, and more. One of the challenges of online learning is the potential lack of opportunities to develop social skills that help students learn to navigate interactions with others as well as helping achieve academic success.
The truth is online learning can be isolating. So, teachers need to consider ways to further encourage and engage their students in their virtual classrooms as they would in the physical classroom.
Let’s consider the first day of school. Some students are shy. They are afraid to speak up in class to a room full of strangers. So, they slouch down in the back row and wait for class to end. In a virtual classroom, a student can leave their webcam off and slide even further back than the back row of the classroom. This can lead to poorer academic performance.
As teachers, we know that the success of the class is dependent on the dynamic relationship students have with us, the lesson material, and each other. It’s important then to use virtual classroom icebreakers for students so they get to know each other, build comradery, and learn better together.
When Exactly is the Right Time to Use an Icebreaker During a Virtual Class?
Because online learning can be isolating, it’s important to find more opportunities for students to break the ice. At first glance, we may only think of the first day of school, but we can certainly find more opportunities for using virtual classroom icebreakers.
- First Day of School – The first day of school can be difficult for students. Virtual classroom icebreakers can help students become more comfortable with one another.
- After Holidays – Similar to the first day of school, returning from holidays can be a major letdown. Allow students to share and interact to get back in the swing of things.
- Start of the week – Who doesn’t have the Monday blues? The first day of the week is tough. Get students ready to learn together with some well-placed virtual classroom icebreakers.
- End of the week – At this point, we’re battling for some last-minute attention. Find ways to deploy icebreakers to get students focused on the class.
When is often defined by the pulse of the class. When you feel students can wake up a bit or are slipping further into the back row, then launch a virtual classroom icebreaker to bring them back into a productive learning space. Remember the point of a virtual classroom icebreaker for students is to get them comfortable with each other and with the material. They are techniques to make every student active in their learning.
Top 10 Virtual Icebreakers Ideas for Students During a Virtual Classroom
Let’s dive into some great virtual icebreakers for students. Because many icebreakers rely on student collaboration, many virtual classroom icebreakers utilize breakout rooms. However, we cover different options that will resonate with different age groups.
1. Show and Tell
This is THE classic icebreaker. Show and tell gives students the option to share their personalities with their classmates. Additionally, it allows them to speak about something they are both passionate about and comfortable with. Show and tell is particularly interesting in the virtual classroom as students are typically at home and have much to share.
2. Video Show and Tell
We love to show some of the things in our home that are meaningful to us, but kids spend a lot of time online. Video show and tell is uniquely positioned as an awesome virtual classroom icebreaker. Have students share their favorite YouTube videos in the class. It can be a favorite song or a funny skit they enjoy or a clip from a favorite show. Like being in the movie theater, watching something together brings us closer together.
3. Breakout Scavenger Hunt
Breakout rooms are great for group work, but you can also use them creatively such as for scavenger hunts. Create a couple of breakout rooms where each breakout room has a clue and task to be completed. Students that complete a task can then move themselves to a different breakout room to complete the scavenger hunt.
4. Dance Party
Sometimes we just need to move. Even though we’re sitting in front of the computer, we can still get up and move. Play a music video or sing-along video, tell everyone to stand up and start the party! Dancing is a great way to let loose and break out. It helps kids shake some nerves and is a perfect virtual classroom icebreaker for students.
5. If I Could Go Anywhere
Dreaming is fun. Break out the classroom into groups and have them talk about where they would go in the world if they could go anywhere. Each student in each group should talk about where they would go and why. After returning to the breakout room have students from each group share where other students in the group would like to go and why.
6. Creator Time
Send students into breakout rooms to make a mini class video project together. You can send them with a prompt or just tell them to be silly. Once in the room, they can record their breakout session where they tell a story or work together to explain how to do something. When they return, you can play the recording for the class.
7. Two Truths and a Lie
This classic icebreaker is at home as a virtual classroom icebreaker. Have a student unmute and present three stories. Two are lies and one is the truth. When the student is done, launch a poll and have every other student vote on what they think is the true story. You can even see who is answering what and ask some students why they think they are correct.
8. Drop a Pin In It
Show a map of the world in the class. Tell your students to use the laser pointer to point to the most interesting place in the world they have been to. This is fun to see where our students have traveled to. Ask students to share a funny story from when they were there.
9. Guess Who
Have each student send you fun facts about themselves – their favorite hobbies, where they were born, anything. Put these statements on a slide and share them with the class. Ask the students to read these fun facts and guess who the student is.
10. Celebrity Interview (20 Questions)
Break students up into pairs in their own breakout rooms. One student is the interviewer while the other is their favorite celebrity or historical figure. The interviewer’s task is to ask questions (like 20 questions). The interviewee then responds to the question as if they are that celebrity or historical figure.
Virtual classroom icebreakers are fun ways to engage students, have some fun, and be a little silly too!
Kaltura Virtual Classroom Platform
Meeting tools are not virtual classrooms. They can do a lot, but they miss out on a lot of the tools we tend to rely on in the classroom.
The Kaltura Virtual Classroom is purpose-built for teaching and learning online. I deep-dive into the tools that make your virtual classes impactful and fun. After all, we need to have fun! Check out this K-12 virtual classroom webinar to get a high-level view of how we approach virtual classrooms. You’ll see that many of our tools are great for carrying out awesome virtual classroom icebreakers for students.
- Browser-based and brandable – The virtual classroom can be customized to match your school’s look & feel as well as be seamlessly integrated into your preferred learning portal. This means that your students never leave your learning environment to join their classes.
- Persistent rooms – Teachers can prepare their rooms ahead of time by uploading content like PDFs, presentations, and videos and ordering them in a playlist. The playlist makes it easy to organize the classroom content.
- Interactive tools – Kaltura virtual classroom promotes engagement first. Utilize tools like quizzing for real-time assessment, poll for feedback, advanced breakout room features such as prepopulated content and permissions for directed breakout room activities, interactive whiteboards and file annotations, collaborative notes, and more.
- Classroom management features – Teachers have a lot of options to set up the virtual classroom as they need. They can give or revoke permissions at a global or individual level.
Our virtual classroom is not so different than the physical classroom. We connect with our students and our students connect. It’s important to remember that active students have a greater chance of becoming successful students. We aren’t broadcasting a television show, we’re connecting in a collaborative space. We need our students to transform from passive viewers to active participants. Virtual classroom icebreakers can be the catalyst to bringing students from being on mute, to enable their mic and webcam and participate in their learning.
Ready to break an iceberg in your next virtual class? Try Kaltura Virtual Classroom for free, today!