September is here. Very soon, you’ll be teaching online, face to face or a combination of both, the so-called hybrid classes.

No matter how many years you’ve been teaching, you’re probably mining the Web these days, looking for get-to-know-you activities ! If that’s the case and you don’t want to do the typical Star activity or Two truths and one lie, you might find this post helpful! I’m about to share ideas and templates I’ve found online, which in my opinion are worth stealing!

20 ideas shared by Futurelearn course participants!

I’ve recently joined a British Council online course on Teaching Young learners online. It’s been more helpful than I thought. This is the link to join the course. Week one focuses on meaningful interaction, week two on content and differentiation, and week three on assessment.

The best thing about these asynchronous courses is that you read a lot of interesting responses in the forum and bookmark tons of useful sites!

One of the forum tasks was to share ideas for GKTY games. I came accross so many fun activities that I’d like to share with you! Here’s the top 20!

1. Elizaveta Likhodey – Instagram Icebreaker

Give the group time to go through their Instagram, or chosen social media account, to choose one photo that they feel best represents themselves and share it with the group or a smaller group.

2. Regina Pretto – An Important Number

Each student says/shows, in written form, an important number to them. The others try to guess why those numbers are important to their classmates.

3. Mareme Sarr – Two minutes talk

My idea for getting to know you at first lessons the Two Minutes Talk on personal information ( name , place of living, likes and dislikes.)

I model the task in the main session to ensure students have a clear understanding of the task and then put them in breakout-rooms to share personal information.Then I join rooms to check flow of task.

When they finish we all come back to the main session and each student will share what they found out about their partner.

4. Flora Porto – Raise your hand if…

I ask a series of yes/no questions. Students answer by raising their hand or making a funny sound (if they’re YL) and then they go to breakout rooms so they can expand the conversation and talk about the things they have in common. It’s super simple, engaging and requires no further preparation. The questions should vary according to your students’ level. Be creative and you’ll be sure to have fun!

Support: It’s a good idea to model the “expansion moment” so they know what to do when in the breakout room. For example:

The command is: Raise your hand if you have a pet.

You could ask one of the students who raised their hand ” Oh, so you have a pet! Is it a dog? What’s your dog’s name? Did you choose the name?…” And that should be enough.

5. Hollie Moore – Show and tell

A really good, ”get to know you” activity which I use many times in class for young learners is: ”Show and tell”, it can be about anything but usually this is about their favorite toy and they show me the toy and describe it to me. Then I show them my toy (a bear or puppet) and our toys talk to each other. This really helps them to feel comfortable in class and they like to talk about themselves and their toys. Also they like to learn about me too!

Rachel Tsateri – 2 ideas!

6) Pizza slices

I like using this with my young learners! Here’s how:

I draw a circle and tell them this is my life pizza. Then I draw uneven slices. In each slice I draw myself doing something, e.g. reading a book, or travelling. The size of the slice depends on how much time I spend on the activity. I ask them to do the same about themselves and then they talk about their “pizzas”. Sometimes I call it my “summer pizza” and I ask them to draw how they spent their summer. I’m no artist as you can see! The funnier the better! Young learners really like it!

If you like my pizza, feel free to download it!

7) Me as a..

Write the following phrases on the whiteboard. Students choose one or more of these prompts and describe themselves with adjectives or sentences, depending on their level.

Me as a student

Me as sister/ brother

Me as a husband/wife

Me as a daughter/ son

Me as a boss/colleague

Me as a boyfriend/girlfriend

8. Hajer Elkawafi -Would you rather

Before I even see my Ss I am always given a list of their names at work. So, I make a table with their names in one column and Would You Rather questions in one row.

When Ss join the lesson I greet them, tell them my name and a fun fact about me and I ask them to do the same. Afterwards, I show them the table and we play Would You Rather and Ss write A or B according to their answer. That way Ss can spot others who share the same interests and I get to know them too!

I tell Ss to take a screenshot of the table and then send them to breakout rooms, in groups of four. I ask them to ask each other why they picked A or B. For example if the question was ‘Would you rather A. watch a movie or B. read a book?’ , they can ask for example ‘What’s your favourite book/movie?

Maria Elena Ortega – 2 ideas!

9) My life in pictures: I choose 5 pictures showing different moments of my life that I would like to share with my students: (my family, my dog, a picture cooking, my flight to Chile, a classroom), and I ask them to choose 5 pictures from the web or personal pictures from one of their social media accounts that tells us about their life and then ask them to talk about them.

I usually help them with pronunciation using the past tense for regular verbs or do a quick review on the pronunciation.

Rachel’s tip: Why not create a collage on Canva?

10) My timeline up to now marking 4 important dates/years/achievements. Students work in pairs. They take turns asking their partner questions to find out what happened.

Rachel’s tip: Why not use the padlet timeline template and upload your pictures or add google images?

11) Saima Abed – quadrant

Part A: Introduce yourself by following the instructions.

Draw a quadrant.

Draw four images (rough sketches) that symbolize your achievements; your values; your leisure-hour activities or anything that you want to share with your peers.

Variation: You may write one word (ONLY) or add clip art images instead of drawing pictures.

Paste the quadrant by replying to this post.

Part B: Respond to your peers.

Comment on TWO peers’ quadrant to guess what each image or word describes.

12) Martha Estela Anaya – spin the wheel

As an icebreaker, I prepare a digital spinning wheel with personal questions that Ss have to answer. I explain how to spin the wheel and model 1-2 questions. Then I share the link to the spinning wheel in the chat so that every student can use it. If the question was already answered, the Ss will spin it again.

Rachel’s tip: You can use https://wheeldecide.com/. Go to modify wheel and add your own questions!

13) Elizabeth Sanes – Sharing my talent

I asked my students to share something they can do well, make a video and tell us how long, why, where they do that activity; for example, nobody knew that some students could play different instruments, practise different sports, draw, cook, have different pets, make jewellery, etc. Then, we watched all the videos. Now they know each other more.

Rachel’s tip: Why not do this on Flipgrid?

14) Margarita Baldenegro – Awesome vacations!

Students are asked to bring a summer holiday picture , or Easter holiday pictures, whatever they want!

The teacher will first model what they’ll have to do by sharing his/her own vacation picture/s, describing: Where did you go? With whom? What did you do? What was your favorite thing about it?

Students are taught vocabulary and grammar structures for it, then they’re asked to make their own presentation.

In groups, they share their pictures and talk about their vacations. Then, they do the same in open class.

15) Erick Agira – padlet

I create a padlet with “add column” feature and add columns for myself and every student. Then, I aks them to write about themselves in their columns, followed by reading and commenting on everyone’s post. I write about myself first, to give them an idea of what’s expected but I allow them to write whatever they want us to know about them.

For example:

Who am I? What are my dis/likes? What are my hobbies? Do I like group work, videos, research, worksheets, reading documents?

Do I like leading a group or just being a member? What are my expectations?

During the lesson, we read and comment on each student’s post.

16) Joe P – souvenirs

I did one with souvenirs you’ve bought on holiday. They had to ask where they bought them and why and then that led to a discussion of the places they visited.

A similar show and tell involved showing an item that you use in a festival your family celebrates.

17) Christian Lutsch – a picture of something

I found this activity online: I would like to try it as a warm up with my 12-to-13-year-olds when we start school next autumn:

Instructions

1. Ask participants to take a picture of something.

Typically, you choose a specific theme. For example, ask participants to take a picture of their shoes, or a picture of something that is on their workstation or the view outside their window.

Remember to ask participants to take the picture and upload it before the training session starts, as otherwise it might take too much time out of the training session if they were to do it in real time.

2. Ask participants to share the picture on a virtual board.

3. Start a discussion. For example, you could ask why they chose that particular item on their desk, or what they like the most about the view they can see from the window etc.

Source: https://symondsresearch.com/icebreakers-for-online-teaching/

18) Leury Mella – Acrostics

For learners 6-9 I asked them to write their names down vertically, brainstorm words or phrases that describe them using the first letter of each line. They can also write a short story using the vocabulary or just a few sentences and present it to the whole class.

Rachel’s example:

Reliable

Admires multilingual people!

Creative

Helpful

Eats a lot!

Loves travelling

19) Joshua James – for Business English

I have been teaching business, so what students could do as a way of introduction would be to identify a business person who they most identify with or admire and to explain why. Other students could then think of questions they would want to ask that business person and the student would have to try to guess what the business person’s answer might be.

20) Erica Mejicano – ‘Same and Different’

1. Split students into groups of 3 or more and send them to breakout rooms.

2. Ask each group to make a list of all the interesting things that they have in common (ask them to avoid obvious things, such as all being men or women) and something unique about each participant. They can write on the wb or add virtual sticky notes. They will have 5 minutes for this task.

3. Then, ask each group to share their list with the rest of the class.

Rachel’s tip: Why not do this on Google Jamboard?

Free Templates from Twinkle Resources!

Many thanks to Twinkl Resources for generously sharing 4 great templates! Exclusively for readers of The TEFL Zone!

Here’s a preview:

4 blogs with great GTKY ideas:

Looking for an original find someone who, full of useful lexical chunks? Leo Selivan has shared a great one on his blog along with 3 more back-to-school activities.

Want to try something different? Miguel Míguez has shared 5 not-so-common GTKY activities on his great blog.

Sandy Millin’s Hobby Circles is a simple, yet very useful activity that you can use to teach functional language. You can also watch this video by Technologik if you need help setting it up.

Are you a techie teacher? Dave Burgess and Matt Miller have put together 50 ideas and templates here.

Use this cool Interactive Introductions Template to have students get to know each other and you. Thank you, Laura Cahill!

I hope you find something you can use. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments!

Happy New Academic Year, everybody 🙂