[I'm back now from a week's travel in the splendid peaks and dales of England; returned to plunge into bowels of my computer due to connectivity problems. Apologies for delay, and thanks for the book orders.]
Of course you started your course by getting people to get to know each other, simply by pairing, or pairing with a mini-interview task or a discussion focus.
Here's another idea, not in the Matrix book: name mesostics. That's right, not acrostics (every first letter), but a puzzle poem made from words that pattern the name letters randomly. Like:
I learned about this word form via Alex Finlay on a visit to the Baltic art centre in Gateshead. It's not as easy as it looks!
For beginners, a straighforward acrostic, possibly only giving descriptions of themselves (even silly ones) would be the way to go. Getting to my mesostic took a bit of a think, a rough go, a break for a broody stage of dissatisfaction leading to an eventual mild eureka moment (eg class coffee break), and then revision. Caution your students who might lose confidence if it doesn't come perfect all at once -- it's an experience in the creative writing process.
Here in blogland, the arrangement is wobbly; in reality the letters of the name or key word line up in one vertical column. See http://www.alecfinlay.com/ for more on what the master is up to with the mesostic form.