LO and behold…

Quick, Cheap and Easy.

Welcome to my match.com profile.

Wait.

No, hang on, this is about a starter activity. Why did I use those three adjectives? Well, they apply to some of the most useful teaching resources I’ve ever stolen been lucky enough to share with my colleagues. I’ve been using another one recently, and wanted to share it here. The idea is very simple, and does away with the traditional Learning Objective, which can have its place but isn’t something of which I’m a huge fan.

You begin your lesson with 5-6 questions on the board. They are related to the day’s learning, and should instruct the students not to shout the answers out if they know them! Of course, you will already have shaped your questions to ensure (as best you can) that the students don’t know the answers. Here is an example from my recent Y7 lesson on formal letter writing using techniques of persuasion.

I asked the class to put one hand on their head if they could have a guess at any of the questions on the board. Many hands went up to heads. I then asked them to keep their hands there if they knew they could answer correctly. One or two hands tentatively stayed attached to heads, but the majority went down. I then asked them to keep their hands on their heads if they knew they could answer all the questions. Of course, all hands were removed.

Then at the end of the lesson, I showed them this slide.

I repeated the exercise and, lo and behold, all the hands went up to heads and stayed there. I then picked on some members of the class to answer the questions, and was very pleased with the results. It’s a really simple but visual way of checking progress, it engages the kids at the start of the lesson (it was nice to hear one or two students shout ‘Ooh, this was one of those questions at the start!’ as we moved through the lesson) and if you get your questions pitched right, it gives the students a pleasing sense of achievement while only taking a maximum of 5 minutes out of your lesson.

I tried the same tactic again for a lesson on ‘Who’s for the Game’ after a week or so of studying ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’…

…and the feeling of having students who struggle with poetry talk to me at the end of the lesson about Pope’s allusions to the boredom/isolation of ‘lying low’ or having ‘a seat in the stands’ while your friends go out and play the ‘biggest’ game that’s available being persuasive was very rewarding indeed.

Anyway, hope this can be of use – do let me know your thoughts on it and if you’ve tried anything similar.

Paul

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About PS

English teacher in Shanghai.
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