Community building activities

Equity Unbound has teamed up with OneHE to develop some open educational resources for online community-building

Why is building a sense of community important?

Watch the welcome video below to find out why Equity Unbound are creating and curating free community building activities for educators.

Play Video

How to use these resources

Each of these resources includes a video or text demonstrating or describing the activity or exercise for community-building. We also include descriptive text, slides you can reuse/adapt where relevant, and links to additional resources. We also show you how much time, what kind of resources you need, and different variations on the activity to help you adapt it for your purposes.

Important: 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

As you watch/read any of these, please let us know:

  1. If you find that the activity is not hospitable to a certain group.
  2. If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection.
  3. If you have an activity or resource that you want to contribute.

Coming soon

We will be frequently adding more activities and resources – sign up to the mailing list or follow Equity Unbound / OneHE on Twitter for updates. We are also creating an online community space to make it easier for you to share ideas, experiences and questions.

What activity will you try today?

All activities and resources

Resource type
Equity Unbound Activity
15% solutions
Discover and focus on what each person has the freedom and resources to do now.
Maha Bali, Jasmina Najjar
Equity Unbound Activity
9 Whys of Liberating Structures
Rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work.
Michael Weinraub
Equity Unbound resource
About Video Conferencing
Addressing many of the questions you might have about video conferencing.
Equity Unbound Activity
Alternative Approaches to Grading
Consider different approaches to grading and how they can affect the classroom atmosphere and more!
Maha Bali, Mia Zamora, Jasmina Najjar, Laura Gibbs, Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh, Arley Cruthers
Equity Unbound Activity
Annotate the Syllabus
Annotating the syllabus helps learners to read, make sense of, question, and discuss their learning.
Remi Kalir
Equity Unbound Activity
Appreciative Interviews
To invite students to use their bodies to represent, collaboratively, an image of something that is worth discussing.
Maha Bali, Autumm Caines, Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Asynchronous & Synchronous Introductions
For students to share multiple dimensions of themselves, synchronously or asynchronously.
Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Authentic Open Letter/Video Addressing Students
Setting a human-centred tone to your class from the beginning of the semester.
Equity Unbound Activity
Cognitive/exam Wrappers for Metacognition
Help students reflect on their exam/assessment performance in order to improve future performance in your course.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Collaborative Literature Review Matrix
Create a discourse community whilst also sharpening close reading, research, summarising, paraphrasing, and citation skills.
Jasmina Najjar
Equity Unbound Activity
Collaborative Storytelling
Promote a sense of community and break the ice in class with collaborative storytelling activities.
Jasmina Najjar
Equity Unbound Activity
Conversation Cafe
Engage everyone in making sense of profound challenges. Use to address difficult or confusing topics.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Critical Uncertainties
Engage everyone in making sense of profound challenges. Use to address difficult or confusing topics.
Autumm Caines
Equity Unbound Activity
Daily Creates
Provides a space for regular practice of spontaneous creativity through “mini” challenges published every day.
Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Estimate workload
Useful tools for estimating workloads and adjusting your plans accordingly.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Four Ideas for Checking In
Particularly important during a pandemic, but this is a good way to start any class.
Maha Bali, Mia Zamora
Recommended resource
Getting feedback from students mid-semester
"Why the end of the semester is too late to collect actionable feedback from your students."
Equity Unbound Activity
Gratitude Journal
Support students’ wellbeing by suggesting a daily or periodic practice of gratitude, promote radical self-compassion.
Maha Bali, Nadine Aboulmagd, Hoda Mostafa, Azza Awwad
Equity Unbound Activity
Human Scavenger Hunt
Create positive engagement and ensure centrality of student voices from the first day of class.
Susan D. Blum
Equity Unbound Activity
Imaginary Buffet (or Potluck)
The purpose of this activity is to engage students with each other’s ‘small talk’, by making a game out of active listening.
Maya Hey
Equity Unbound Activity
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.
Patrice Prusko
Recommended resource
Karen Ray Costa’s Trauma-Aware Teaching Checklist
This checklist has been prepared for higher educators as a tool to reflect on their teaching and courses, regardless of modality.
Equity Unbound Activity
Language Portrait
Reflect on language experiences with your students and share biographical information.
Francesca Helm
Recommended resource
Loglines
A fun, text-based way to warm up or cool down a session or topic.
Equity Unbound Activity
Meditation
Meditation provides an opportunity for students to relax before or after teaching.
Equity Unbound Activity
Office Hour Scheduling via Google Calendar
Particularly helpful to facilitate the scheduling of office hours with students for teachers who need to meet students individually in short timeslots.
Fikry Boutros
Equity Unbound Activity
Pass the Ball & How Do You Make Rice?
The purpose of this activity is to engage in a discussion about identity and difference.
Autumm Caines
Equity Unbound Activity
Pass the Paper
Create an opportunity for your students to connect through writing.
Sarah Silverman
Equity Unbound Activity
Pop-up Psychogeography Journey Journal
To invite students to use their bodies to represent, collaboratively, an image of something that is worth discussing.
Sarah-Jane Crowson
Equity Unbound Activity
PowerPoint Karaoke
Engage students in improv presenting, and enhance oral presentation skills in a light and humorous way.
Maha Bali, Jasmina Najjar, Hoda Mostafa
Equity Unbound Activity
Purpose to Practice
Use the Purpose to Practice structure with students to co-develop “community guidelines” for the class.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Room 101
Sharpen logical reasoning and debating skills. Create discussion.
Jasmina Najjar
Equity Unbound Activity
Self-assessment Tool (of social justice in your teaching) from DISCs (Disciplines Inquiring into Societal Challenges)
Gauge your level of competence and comfort in the themes of gender-consciousness, interculturalism, and community, both in their individual pedagogical practices and wider academic engagements.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Share an object from home
Encourage students to share something of themselves.
Equity Unbound Activity
Simple Metacognitive Activities
Some simple questions that can help students develop their metacognitive learning skills.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound resource
Some safety considerations for online community building
Setting a human-centered tone to your class from the beginning of the semester.
Kate Bowles
Equity Unbound Activity
Spiral Journal
Promote focus and reflection while allowing individuals to compose responses thoughtfully and calmly in writing.
Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Start/Stop/Continue
Use this activity to help students to reflect on what's working for them and how to identify actions that can be taken to make improvements.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Structured Dialogues
This pair or trio activity is ideal for reflection and also to practice focused listening.
Sherri Spelic
Equity Unbound Activity
Studio visits
Bring in external speakers into your classroom via a virtual “studio visit”, an informal discussion with one or two external guests.
Mia Zamora
Equity Unbound Activity
Surrealist Free Drawing Introductions
Creative take on doing intros that can help students to know one another and challenges perfection paralysis.
Autumm Caines
Equity Unbound Activity
Survey students early in the semester: Pre-Course Survey
Use a pre-course survey to get to know your students early on in the semester.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Teaching Ethics with Theatre of the Oppressed and Liberating Structures
Engage everyone in making sense of profound challenges. Use to address difficult or confusing topics.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Theater of the Oppressed: Opposites
Warming up before class or after a break in a longer class. Encouraging use of the body, refreshes students’ bodies and minds.
Tina Pippin
Equity Unbound Activity
Theatre of the Oppressed: Image Theatre
To invite students to use their bodies to represent, collaboratively, an image of something that is worth discussing.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Thick Greetings
Try out a slower and more deliberate opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves.
Maha Bali, Mia Zamora, Autumm Caines, Laura Gibbs
Equity Unbound Activity
Third Places for Ongoing Community Building
Creating semi-formal, semi-synchronous spaces outside of class time for students to socialize with each other.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Tiny Demons/Drawing Monsters
Help people express and face their fears in a way that can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Lyse Edwards
Equity Unbound Activity
Tiny Tales
Encourage short, focused storytelling, easy to share with others, writing stories in 100 words (or fewer), or 6 words or 2 sentences, etc.
Laura Gibbs
Recommended resource
Torrey Trust’s Technology is not the solution to cheating
This is a useful infographic for thinking through how to build trust and reduce cheating in your courses - recognising that technology will not solve your problems. 
Equity Unbound Activity
Tour of Where You Are
The purpose here is to build community through students sharing where they are studying from.
Patrice Prusko
Equity Unbound Activity
Trauma-Informed Pedagogy & How is Your Heart?
How to help students thrive in class in times of trauma.
Mays Imad
Equity Unbound Activity
TRIZ
TRIZ can “Stop Counterproductive Activities and Behaviors to Make Space for Innovation”. Try it out!
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Troika Consulting – Adaptation for Class Community Building
Get students used to supporting each other without always turning to an “expert” for solutions.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
Two by Three by Bradford
“Rapidly clarify for individuals and a group what is essentially important in their work.”
Sarita Shukla
Equity Unbound Activity
What kind of animal are you?
Fun introductory or warm-up activity.
Irene Maweu
Activity
Wheel of Life for Student Self-help
The Wheel of Life provides a snapshot of your wellbeing and the level of satisfaction in your current circumstances.
Maha Bali
Equity Unbound Activity
While We Wait
Make use of the 5-10 minutes before class time or if you give a break in the middle of class.
Jasmina Najjar
Equity Unbound Activity
Wild Tea / Mad Tea
This activity promotes small group intimacy and collaboration, making a large group session feel interactive.
Maha Bali

Biographies of curators of activities

Nadine Aboulmagd
America University in Cairo, Egypt
Jen Alexander
Educator, speaker and consultant, USA
Azza Awwad
American University in Cairo, Egypt
Maha Bali
American University in Cairo, Egypt
Susan D. Blum
University of Notre Dame, USA
Fikry Boutros
America University Cairo, Egypt
Kate Bowles
University of Wollongong, Australia
Autumm Caines
University of Michigan – Dearborn, USA
Sarah-Jane Crowson
Hereford College of Arts, UK
Arley Cruthers
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
Lyse Edwards
National Health Service, UK
Alex Fink
USA
Laura Gibbs
University of Oklahoma, USA
Maya Hey
Concordia University in Tiohtià:ke, Canada
Mays Imad
Pima Community College, USA
Remi Kalir
University of Colorado Denver, USA
Roberta Kjesrud
Western Washington University, USA
Irene Maweu
e/merge Africa
Hoda Mostafa
American University in Cairo, Egypt
Jasmina Najjar
American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Patrice Prusko
Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA
Sarita Shukla
University of Washington-Bothell, USA
Sarah Silverman
University of Michigan-Dearborn, USA
Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh
Central New Mexico Community College, USA
Sherri Spelic
American International School Vienna, Austria
Michael Weinraub
Bureau of Resilience and Food Security of USAID, USA
Mia Zamora
Kean University, USA

Do you have feedback or suggestions?