Although students do a lot of small group work (and participate in class discussions), they often don’t know each other’s names – sometimes not even those of their own groups. At the end of the semester, students still ask me who “so and so” is so they can return peer reviewed papers.
During the second half of Fall 2014, I taught a F2F 8-week ENG102 course. To encourage students to learn each other’s names (and help me remember them more quickly), the first class session was spent getting to know each other. After a brief review of major policies, we did a Circle Name Game and Group Puzzle-Solving (see attachment).
Not only did I memorize all my students’ names on the first day, showing my students I care about them, but they also learned each other’s names. Only once all semester did a student ask who “so and so” was. Furthermore, students seemed much more engaged and collaborative throughout the semester. In fact, it was the first semester students stayed after completing peer reviews to talk personally with the writers to explain their comments on essays.