Using icebreaker activities and re-energizers in the classroom effectively helps to “break the ice” in various ways: Adult learners get acquainted, start conversations, build trust, and relieve tensions. They encourage participation and help create a sense of connection and shared common understanding. They help to clear the mind, vitalize, and create enthusiasm (Chlup & Collins, 2010).
What is this technique about
The Dance Battle method is a group activity based on prechosen dance moves by the teacher and where two or more teams compete against each other by executing the dance moves together, hence the more group members who do the moves correctly, the higher chance to get a point. This process can be repeated as many times as wanted but must be an uneven number of rounds to find a winner (5 or 7 rounds are recommended).
Where does it come from
During the ’80s and ’90s, hip hop dance was at its highest and it became increasingly popular as a street performance where the dancers competed against each other in “battles”, which could take place in the streets as well as on the dance floors (Place, 2022)
For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)
Icebreakers like the Dance battle method bring humor into the class, establishes relationships, and create a learning environment where students can feel safe, and overall assist with content learning because they re-energize. Therefore, their implementation in engineering teaching is known to contribute to improved student participation and enhanced learning (Chlup & Collins, 2010).
When facilitating a workshop where students are deeply concentrated on solving a problem or developing a future scenario or solution, it is ideal to have an ice breaker or “mind freer” midway. The purpose of the ice breaker is to get the students to stop thinking of the topic for a moment and do a completely different activity so the brain can process all the information obtained so far. Here, The Dance Battle can be used as an ice breaker because it is a fun game that includes everyone and takes the students’ minds off the topic for a moment. Ice breakers are often an underrated session but can affect the outcome of the workshop positively.
How to use it
Divide the students into two or more groups with an equal number of members. Tell the students to turn their cameras on and to make sure that they have enough space in their room to execute the dance moves. Show the video with the first dance move which the groups should imitate as well and precise as possible. When the teacher has decided which group did best and gets a point, the next dance move will be presented. This process is repeated as many times as wanted. Make sure to do an uneven number of rounds to find the winner in the end.
How to implement this techniques online
Preparation, what do before the session
- Find 5-7 different and simple dance moves that you want the students to imitate.
- Prepare short clips of the moves (if you want, insert them into a PowerPoint).
- Make sure that the animation and sound works when screensharing, so the students can see the whole move and hear the music.
- Inform the students i in advance that they will be required to turn their camera on.
During application, i.e., while giving the session
- Split the students into groups.
- Introduce the students to the exercise and its purpose. Tell them that you will participate in the challenge as well
- Tell the students to
- turn their camaras on (wait until everybody has done it)
- stand up and have a good amount of space around them to execute the dance battle (wait until everybody stands)
- turn their camera towards them when doing the moves, so it is visible on the screen – make sure that you can see all student screen to evaluate which group did best
- Tell the students that the group where most members are dancing and that is best in imitating will get 1 point.
- Start screensharing and set the timer on 1 minute.
- Show the first dance move and ask the students to dance. You should also dance to stimulate participation.
- Tell the students when time is up. Announce a winning team.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 with all dance moves.
- Announce an overall winning team and applaud them.
Follow-up, about what to do after the session
- Tell the students to take a regular break before proceeding with the workshop.
Examples and/or testimonials
The below is an example of how the method was prepared and facilitated in February 2021 by a student group during the course “Megatrends and Technological Innovation” held at the University of Southern Denmark by Prof. Dr. Patricia Wolf.
In the example below, the part orange middle part of the workshop (turning point) would be where the ice breaker is implemented.
Facilitator’s instruction guide
Example Dance Battle – “SDG Challenge” Group 7, 2021.
“Moonwalking” dance move by Michael Jackson
“Gangnam Style” dance move by PSY
- Internet access
- Access to online learning platform (e.g., Teams, Zoom Skype) and cameras
- Three short clips of dance moves
- Good amount of space to execute the dance moves.
Becreate.ch (n.d.), online at https://www.becreate.ch/en/knowledge
Place, D. A. (2022, April 19). A History Of Hip Hop Dance. A Dance Place. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.adanceplace.com/hip-hop-dance-history/
Chlup, D. T., & Collins, T. E. (2010). Breaking the ice: using ice-breakers and re-energizers with adult learners. Adult Learning, 21(3-4), 34-39.