Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Day Activities

So what should we do on the first day?  Here are some ideas:

I posted a couple activities to my Google Drive.  Included are:

  • a couple docs that Louis Schmier posted some time ago about establishing trust in the classroom
  • Dr. Drew Appleby's activity on memory and created connections within schemas--an adapted PPT file I use on the first or second day
  • A Psych True/False PPT Activity based upon chapters from the book, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology by Scott O. Lilienfeld, et al
  • A "Psych or Not" PowerPoint I created a few years ago

Feel free to check these out, use, and adapt as needed.  There is some personalization in the PPT files.

I was going back through some files from the 1990s.  Yes, I am old.  I found a file that had day one mingle activities that require little to no set up.  I do not know who shared these or what the origins were.  I do know the ideas are very cool, depending upon your class goals.


For my first day interest-generating activity, I use a "mingle" format where they walk around the room introducing themselves to each other, at least five others anyway, except that they can't use any names or grade levels or usual items. Instead, they must introduce themselves by 1) what they ate for breakfast, 2) their weight, or 3) their zodiac sign:
***"Hi, I'm yogurt and frozen waffles, who are you?"***

This generates fun and laughs, then we sit down and discuss it. I ask what interesting aspects of human behavior they noticed during the mingle. Typical observations will bring up excellent items for brief comment on by way of connecting real-life scientific research that will be covered later in the class. Examples:
- Most of the girls didn't say their weight (gender differences, cultural norms, body image, interpersonal attraction, etc.)
- Some people knew the zodiac stuff really well, and other people didn't 
     (pseudoscience, magical thinking, parapsychology, experimental methods)
- A lot of people had nothing for breakfast (memory, cognition, applied vs. basic research, human development, longevity, etc.)
- Most people only introduced themselves to people sitting close to them already, even though we all had to stand up and move around   

     (propinquity effect, familiarity, out-group homogeneity, introversion vs. extraversion, etc.)
- It felt uncomfortable to do a familiar activity in a different way
     (schemas, social norms, interpersonal distance zones, elements of humor, ...) 


....usually I will tell them about my background and why I teach this class and on the second day we begin to have fun
...I have had them interview others and introduce the person to the class
...we arrange people according to birth date, age, without speaking
...we balance a ball on a 30 strings with a ring in the middle and challenge other classes
...we do a history of psychology on a string line ending with each of them
...we go on a blind walk
...we jump rope in a cooperative manner and competitive manner
...we discuss why they chose this class
...we discuss my best first day, when my son was born one of the first days of school (some students have said it was their best day as well when I was not there on the first day)
...we have discussed who was out best teacher and why
...we have formed a line over 60 feet long and passed our books from a storeroom into the class
...we have all cried when it was announced a teacher we had all known had died the day before...

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

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