An explanation of why starter activities are important to good lesson planning.
Why are starter activities important to effective lesson planning?
Starter activities are an excellent way to grab learners’ attention from the outset of a lesson. It can set the tone for a session, introduce key ideas which will manifest later on and act as a means of assessing existing knowledge of a subject, which can help the teacher understand how best to differentiate for students. Gershon (2013, p. viii) suggests that starters are beneficial to learners in ‘helping them to experience success, eliciting prior knowledge and getting them to think in the context of the subject’. Starters and plenaries are closely interlinked, and are part of a three-part structure that is commonly used in practice now (starter, main body of lesson, plenary), as it is considered to most effectively generate and consolidate learning. The kind of starter activity utilised can also help to set the mood of a session: for a lesson in which active participation and interaction with other learners is wanted, a starter in which learners work in groups or complete a kinaesthetic activity could be beneficial. If the learning is designed to elicit more individual reflection, an individual, quiet task could be set. Overall, a starter serves as an engaging introduction to a session and can support a teacher in getting learners into the best mindset for learning.
Gershon, M. Secondary Starters and Plenaries: History. London: Bloomsbury.