I got this idea from another instructor who teaches English. And I think it’s a great way to have students introduce themselves to one another. Especially in a freshman composition class, I think students’ feeling comfortable with one another and getting to know one another are important. It is very FYE.
Assign students to bring a “bag” with two or three items that are important to them, maybe things that signify something about their values or experiences. If you can afford a whole class session, you could have all the students share their bags with the class. In a writing class, you could do a pre- or post-writing exercise around it. For my class this fall, I will be asking them to do a blog post about it, which will lead to their first essay modeled around This I Believe (NPR). The website for This I Believe has a great resource for curriculum ideas for all levels of education, including college.