Following last weeks’ Meet and Greet, we looked this week at how we start the learning process through our Hooks and Starters.
So how do we sustain the perfect meet and greet and continue to embed these high standards throughout our lesson? The impact we make at the beginning of our lesson, sets the tone for the entire learning period. We all want to create a great impression, don’t we? What are your expectations? You want the pupils to sit down, be prepared and confident that they are about to learn purposeful content and make rapid and sustained progress; which meets their learning objective.We want all of our pupils to be entitled to this in every lesson and feel inspired to work hard and learn new skills. By ensuring you have a purposeful starter, you are helping deliver consistency across our school.
So pedagogically speaking-What is the purpose of a starter?
There are three key elements which all good starters share: they focus on learning; they make students think; and they hook them in to the lesson.
Students should walk into your room and automatically expect to do something- this should be a goal you are currently striving towards. If an (Ofsted) inspector observed this practice they will know this is a daily routine; showing high expectations and how pupils are demonstrating keenness and commitment to succeed in their subject. I introduced the importance of a starter and how it would slot into the lesson….
How to Hook our learners
- Focussing starters on the subject and the topic helps students recognise why they are in the lesson: to learn about that particular discipline.
- Starters Increase their skill-levels as they come to understand how the activities work.
- One way in which to ensure all students are thinking – and that no one can play the “I don’t know” get out card – is to make sure your starter is open-ended and can be answered with no more material than what you provide.
Traffic Light Cards
Teresa from our Science Department was the first to demonstrate some great ways you can use Traffic light cards for easy and effective starter tasks. This simple starter is a fantastic way to get the energy alive in your classroom. Teresa discussed the different ways we could utilise these cards in our everyday practice:
- Have tiered and colour-coded questions on the board and assign pupils an appropriate card based on their ability. This is a great way to differentiate and stretch all in one simple and discreet step.
- Add post-it notes to the cards with different challenges, enabling pupils to choose their tasks independently.
- Place statements on the board which relate to the previous lesson and get pupils to rate their knowledge and understanding before progressing with the next topic.
Jamie from our Humanities department demonstrated a fun and enthusiastic way to engage pupils with picture clues. Jamie discussed the difficulty of getting pupils engaged, taking the register and handing out books- all in a very short period of time. Having tried this on the staff body on Tuesday morning- I can certainly vouch Jamie kept us all quiet and got our brains ticking away! It proved a very successful starter and one I will most definitely be trying out!
Want an instant, hassle-free starter? Seamus from our science department looked at how we can use word searches as a quick and easy starter activity; which entail very little planning before hand. Seamus talked about the importance of having the word searches on the desk, as the pupils enter the room.
This compliments our meet and greet procedure and allows pupils to get straight onto their task. Seamus discussed the importance of differentiating the starters, highlighting how they are the starting point of a pupil engaging with the topic and the path towards making progress. If a starter is too difficult, or taxing, then a pupil will become instantly disengaged and lost before they have begun. Here is a handy little link to make your very own word search. http://worksheets.theteacherscorner.net/make-your-own/word-search/
Remember, a fun and engaging starter will give your lesson the ‘x’ factor and will change the way our pupils think and the skills they use on a daily basis.
Our pupils will become more independent and will become great problem solvers; preparing them, not only for learning new subject knowledge, but preparing them for all aspects of 21st century life.
If you have any tried and tested starters please let us know- we can’t wait to hear from you and start trying out new ideas! Guest Blogger: Emma McGroarty ITT Lead firstname.lastname@example.org