by Patricia Hipwell
Best selling author of the How to write what you want to say series, Patricia Hipwell, has completed her magnum opus which will benefit all teachers from Year 4 – Year 12.
This book has been written to provide teachers with ways of ‘hooking’ students into learning at the start of each and every lesson. It contains almost 300 ways of doing this. The book is designed to be used by teachers in all curriculum areas from Year 4 upwards. It contains a plethora of ideas that can be adapted to any curriculum area. In the book, the term relevant or subject-specific content is used a great deal. This is because skills are always best developed in the context of use with content that is relevant to current areas of study. There is little point, for example, in asking students to do an activity that develops their sentence-writing skills using information on Ancient Greece when they are currently studying the Black Death. The symbiotic relationship between content and skills means that teachers often have to develop their own resources, because this enables them to focus on the skills using relevant and current content.
Variously referred to as anticipatory sets, warm‑ups, lesson starters or ‘hooks’, the activities in this book are excellent ways to ‘switch students on’ to their learning. In this book the activities will be referred to as lesson starters. Their purposes include:
● moving key facts and figures from short-term to long-term memory
● activating prior knowledge about a topic (where prior knowledge exists)
● awakening interest in the topic of the lesson
● checking for understanding
● improving a variety of skills
● developing learning strategies
● improving vocabulary
● developing collaborative learning strategies.
Most of these activities are designed to take between five and ten minutes at the start of the lesson. Students may take longer until they become familiar with them, especially if the activities are different from current learning activities. Many of the activities will work best if students work in pairs or small groups. Some activities can generate noise and therefore be unsettling, so teachers will need to be mindful of this when choosing a particular activity. They may prefer to do the activity at the end rather than the start of a lesson. In this case, the purpose of the activity is to consolidate the learning of the lesson.
The focus of many of the activities is to increase the amount of reading and writing we require students to do. Also, students need to develop their vocabulary in all areas of the curriculum and many of the activities have been developed with this in mind.