I’m of the generation of PGCE students that were introduced to teaching with the three part lesson and it’s a hard habit to kick.
I admit my lesson almost always starts with a starter activity, a hook for the lesson or something to draw upon prior learning.
In this post I share with you a few of my favourite 5 starter tasks.
Quite simply students are given a stimulus such as a photo, sound, object, key term etc. and they draw up a series of questions. In year 7 I start students off with what makes a good question and introduce the question grid to develop their practice in this area so eventually they are creating their own awesome questions. In my new school I set up the questions to ponder area, students have posted some of their questions there and we come back to them throughout the topic.
5 in 5 minutes
Students are given 5 categories and are given 5 minutes to write a list of 5 associated with the category given. For instance recently in a lesson on ecosystems and the cycles of the ecosystem the categories were as follows
1 – Biomes
2 – Climates
3 – Water cycle stores
4 – Carbon cycle stores
5 – Transfer processes in the water cycle
I find it useful as a recall activity to activate prior learning.
As a teacher of Humanities I loved this activity to stimulate the senses at the start of a lesson, to get the students engaged and questioning what they would be learning. Using YouTube I’d find a suitable clip for the students to enter to, sometimes the sounds of a battle field or the fauna of the rainforest, a tornado or trench. Sometimes an image would be displayed alongside the sounds, other times simply the sound clip. Initially students to head straight into asking questions but the refusal to answer and reminder to the task on the board soon quietens them and quickly engage their senses. This has worked through for me through the key stages, although the older they get, the less likely they are to want to close their eyes and engage fully.
4. Find your Match
This one usually requires a bit more planning than the others. As students enter they are given a card which has a corresponding card such as a key term and definition or map symbol and description or part of a key term. Quite simply students have to find the person with the corresponding card. Sometimes this is used to partner students up or to create a new seating plan. Other times it initiates the learning for the lesson and other times it is quite simply used to recall learning.
5. Mind the Gap
A simple activity to get students practicing the spelling of key terminology. These can be made as simple or complex as you wish. I differentiate on occasions by providing several lists of varying challenge or will give particular words to students that keep making the same reoccurring errors.
What are your go to starter activities? Share yours in the comments.