“It’s a coursework lesson, I want them to come in and get on with their coursework, they have no time to be doing anything else.”
I’ve said it, back when I first trained, and thought coursework could only be completed correctly if 100% of a lesson was narrowly focused on said task.
It’s the wrong opinion to have! Starter activities are hugely important in EVERY lesson.
Why have starters?
- They give students a focus the moment they come into the room (reminding them the learning starts immediately)
- They allow you to introduce the theme of the lesson is a bite size chunk
- They can give opportunity to introduce key vocabulary you want students to understand and use throughout a lesson and in coursework!
- Starters can remind students about the importance of using time wisely (especially in coursework lessons)
There are many more reasons, but those spring immediately to mind when I think about the role of a starter in my class (& I teach a huge amount of BTEC lessons).
- Match up activities; for example, Match the file type name with the explanations provided.
- Key vocabulary word search; word searches are only a wasted starter activity if unrelated to the lesson, if they feature as an introduction to key terms you wish to expand upon then they’re a useful starting point.
- Mystery item; give students some key sentences “You use this to…” and a space to fill in the item you’re talking about (related to the topic you’ve been covering previously).
- Dictionary; Ask students to create a dictionary of key terms you’ve used so far, with an explanation and an example sentence.
- Mystery topic item; put something related to the topic of your lesson on your desk and ask students what they think? What questions spring to mind about how this could relate to the lesson?
- Key Vocabulary sentences; give students a list of words that they should be using in coursework or in exams and ask them to construct sentences using them at least once in each one (extend this by offering points per correct use of word in a sentence!)
- Label/Annotate without a clue; give students a diagram with the heading ‘label and annotate me’ but no other instructions and see what they deem the important things to label and annotate (great way to see what they value from a topic and can remember).
- Colour importance; give students a sheet of revision notes, or key text of their course, with 3 colours (pencils, pens etc) ask them to colour code items based on their importance of relevance to their work, exam success etc. (again helps you see what they know, understand and value!)
Hope those ideas are useful to teachers struggling with the task of planning a starter for any lesson (especially coursework ones).