Some Ideas about Teaching
starters and plenaries have to relate to the topic you are covering or the
skills that you are trying to develop during the lesson?
'experts' will tell you different things!
As I see it there are three kinds of starters:
When I was writing Options in History, I tried to get across the idea
that every lesson should start with some kind of discussion/reflection on
something that established the PRINCIPLE of the lesson. Thus, for example,
if the lesson was about long and short term causation, I would chat with the
pupils about a fight between two pupils, and establish the long and the
short-term causes of the fight, or tell them that a certain pupil had failed
the exam, ask for suggestions as to why, and show how the pupils'
suggestions divided into long and short-term causes. Alternatively, if the
lesson was about inference from a source, I might start by putting up a few
random 'facts' about an imaginary person and asking the pupils to muse
creatively about what kind of person it was.
Short intellectual exercises that 'get the brain working'.
With my special needs classes, I often start with some movement version of
the 'I went to market' memory game, getting the pupils in turn to complete
an ever-lengthening list of tasks in order to 'win' their exercise book. The
purpose of this is to stimulate the working memory before we start work.
If you include compliments and polite greetings to other pupils as part of
your tasks, you can foster class-unity and calm down conflicts into the
3. Relevant waker-uppers
My number 2, who is a brilliant teacher, manages to combine
the two, and devises little games (card-sorts/quizzes/intellectual
challenges etc.) which are relevant to the topic she is about the teach.
= LOTS of hard work, not least in the preparation.
Personally, I do waker-uppers with my SN pupils because it is fun and its
gets their brains going, but for more able pupils I MUCH prefer the
The very first lesson I was ever taught on my PGCE course - and which taught
me the MOST IMPORTANT thing I have ever learned about teaching - was:
"Start where the pupils are,
and then move them towards where you want them to get."
It is the
easiest thing in the world to think of an appropriate allegory for the
principle you are trying to get across, and - once they have grasped the
principle - it does more for the pupils' understanding of the rest of the
lesson than anything else.
on: Nov 5 2005, 06:52 PM