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Two Icebreaker Ideas...

Hi Lightbulbers.

Couple of things I've used as a high energy warm-up lately:

1. Using a whiteboard to design a virtual background that they then upload, e.g.:

  • team effort in breakouts.  If they are working in the same teams throughout the programme, ask them to think of a team name and put them into breakouts to design a virtual background that sums up the essence of their team. Ask them all to upload it for the rest of the programme.
  • individual effort in breakouts - give them 5 minutes to draw a picture that describes them, their strengths, their learning needs, their key learning takeways etc etc. Upload it as their virtual background. Spotlight everyone in turn when they return to plenary.  Vote for your favourite?
  • Plenary effort.  If you've worked with a group for a while and they've got to know you quite well, ask them to design YOU a virtual background, which you can then upload. Good energiser for the the start of the final session with them. 

2. Networking in self-directed breakouts. Possible in Zoom (maybe other platforms?) but not Teams. Set up manual breakouts with the option for participants to choose their room. Set them up before people arrive to your session. Once you get a handful arriving, ask them to "go network" for a few minutes, pointing out they can switch rooms.  As further people arrive,  send them off to go and find their colleagues. Think of some relevant / fun names for the rooms.


I'm sure you can add to and build on these ideas so do share!


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  • I really like your first ice breaker Paul! What an amazing idea!

    • Getting them to create one for you could be risky, but fun!

  • HI - i've been teaching on Zoom all year and hadn't clocked that you can name the rooms. Brilliant! but what does 'go network' mean? thanks Catherine 

    • Yeah, cool isn't it! Sorry, poor English - I meant "go and network, connect, check in with each other etc.

      • ah i see! Yes of course.  Thanks Paul. I still don't understand how they can move from room to room though - I find that once they've left a room I have to manually put them in again. Is it something in settings?

        • Hi Catherine, 

          In the Zoom breakouts panel, under options, you can allow people to "self select" their breakout rooms. You might need to explain to them that they can click "breakouts" from their bottom menu to select which room. This Zoom support article has more: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115005769646

          Participating in breakout rooms
          Overview Breakout rooms are sessions that are split off from the main Zoom meeting. They allow the participants to meet in smaller groups, and are co…
          • Thanks so much Paul and Jo  - that's life changing! I will definitely have a go at that. Loving the site Jo - i've been looking around for something just like this to participate in and give me some new ideas. 

            • Hi Catherine, our pleasure! I'm so glad you are finding our community useful, you've made me smile :D 

  • Thank you Paul.  Some great ideas here.

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