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As you finalize your first day of class agenda, remember that making “critical connections” (Kreizinger, 2006) is one way to begin creating a positive classroom climate.  This approach focuses on making connections rather than giving directions.  The goals of the first class session are to connect students to the instructor, connect the instructor to the content, and connect course content to the students.  Below are a few ways that Kaneb Center staff have approached making critical connections in their own classes.

We hope you are inspired to create critical connections on your first day as well!

Kreizinger, J.  (2006).  Critical connections for the first day of class.  Teaching Professor, 20(5), 1.


“I like having YouTube clips that touch on course themes, a quick visual to bring the content to life for the students, and then spark a brief discussion about what questions the clip raises, and how we will cover those questions throughout the semester. “ —Laura Taylor, Kaneb Center Graduate Associate

“I have students in groups of three or four identify a scene from a TV show or movie that they are familiar with then translate it into Spanish and act it out for the class. This is relevant to the class since the students will be acting in their video production later in the semester.” —Kevin Barry, Kaneb Center Director

“I ask students in my multimedia class to create an avatar – an image that represents them in some way. They choose one of several online tools that help create a Marvel super hero or a character from South Park (example to the left) or the Simpsons. This activity gives students a feel for the prevalent class format, shows me how quickly they learn a new tool, and provides something to talk about when we meet later on. The students are required submit their images online, so they also become oriented to the Sakai assignments tool. Some students even use their avatar as a profile image when setting up online accounts required for the course.”  —Chris Clark, Kaneb Center Assistant Director

“As a way of illustrating the various skills sets that each student will contribute to the semester-long research project, we will complete a skills inventory as part of our first day activities and debrief the results during the second class session.  The debrief session is key for uncovering our collective strengths and areas where there are opportunities for growth.” —Amanda McKendree, Kaneb Center Assistant Director

How will you initiate critical connections on your first day of class?

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