Most restaurants will offer you a ‘starter’ while you are waiting for the main course. A starter is designed to whet your appetite for the main course. As teachers, we often do not attach a great importance to attention-getting lessons starters as we should. What sometimes passed off as lesson starters are no more than a summary of the last lesson or an introduction to the next. The lesson starter should serve a dual purpose; to introduce the lesson and at the same time whet the students’ appetite for learning. A teacher can use any type of starter; the only criterion is that it must totally capture students’ interest. Using starters gives the teacher the flexibility to begin the lesson right away without having to wait for the whole group to arrive. When the students come into the lesson, they know that there is always an activity or a discussion they can join in.
‘Research findings and practical experience tell us about the importance of lesson starts. They are recognised as having significant and direct impact on the quality of the learning both within the starter itself and in the rest of the lesson.’(Pedagogy and Practice: Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools DfES page21)
I believe a good starter captures pupils’ interest and curiosity because it:
• Prevents early disruption by engaging pupils as soon as they enter the classroom
• Gets pupils involved from the outset
• Links back to previous learning
• Sets the scene for the lesson to come in terms of lesson objectives, challenge and pace.
To achieve all the above aims, starters will only be successful if they are carefully incorporated into good lesson planning. The task must be accessible to all the participants, instructions and expectations must be explicit. When planning a lesson starter, the teacher should retrieve what pupils already know and understand, what they can do, understanding the pupils attitudes and beliefs. For a starter the time is the key factor, it is designed as a warm up...