Watch this video to see 'Introductions: Story of Your Name' in action...

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The purpose of 'Introductions: Story of Your Name'

The purpose of this activity is to get to know people’s name on a more personal level through storytelling.

Activity description

  • Useful for
  • Preparation
  • How to do it
  • Duration
  • Adaptations
  • Tech requirements
  • An icebreaker activity on the first day of class or group meeting.
  • Learning about people’s lived experience and culture.
  • Helping people remember each other’s name by attaching a story to it.
  • Building relationships of trust in a new group.
  • Creating a safe space for people to share about their background.
  • Humanizing 
  • No preparation needed by participants.
  • Facilitator could create a slide with name of activity and questions.
  • Describe activity and why doing it: namely, invite each participant in turn to tell a story about any part of their name (first name, last name, middle name, nickname)
  • Tell people why you find it interesting and helpful to hear the story of someone’s name
  • Explain they can share as much or little as they are comfortable
  • Pose some questions to spark what story they want to share 
    • How was your name chosen?
    • Were you named after someone?
    • Does it have any cultural or historical meaning?
    • Is there a story or experience related to your name you would like to share?
  • Let them know it can be first name, and/or last name
  • Let them know they have 2 minutes to share. If using Zoom you can set a timer.
  • If people are going into a breakout room ask that someone be assigned as timer, note taker, and person who will share back.
  • Set up a collaborative document such as a Google doc or OneDrive so that the small groups can write down their stories. Then add in a shared space so that others can read everyone’s story at a later time.
  • If less than 10 people you can facilitate as whole group.
  • If more than 10 people, suggest putting people into groups of 3-4.
  • 3-5 minutes explaining the activity, why you are doing it, and putting people into groups if needed.
  • 2 minutes per person to share story.
  • If people shared in small groups 1-2 minutes for each group to share something back that they learned.
  • 5 minutes to wrap-up and highlight importance of what they learned, how connects to the community and ways they will be working together.

Here are some adaptations and alternative tools: 

  • Alternative tools could be an asynchronous discussion tool such as Voicethread, Flipgrid, Yellowdig or LMS discussion.
  • An adaptation could be sharing the story of a nick-name.
  • If a large group suggest using breakout rooms.
  • Google docs or other collaborative tools can be used as a way for small groups to share their stories in their small group, and then they can be shared so the whole class can see them.
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How do I use these resources?

We have created a welcome video and some introductory text that explains in detail how to use these resources. You can also find answers to some key questions below. 

Yes you can. We have included descriptive text and slides that you can reuse / adapt for this reason. We have suggested some variations for activities to help you make adaptations.

We show how much time an activity should take and what resources you need to help you make a decision.

As we include more resources over time you will have a greater choice of activities and more information about the different contexts within which they work best. 

Any technique can block some people out, make them feel unwelcomed, or be used in a way that privileges some and makes it harder on others.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with pedagogies of care and what we call Intentionally Equitable Hospitality

If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection in the comments or get in touch through social media / email.

Coming soon: there will be room to discuss these activities in private discussion forums in OneHE’s.

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