I recently observed a lesson with a great starter activity that had all the students engaged and was a clever way of mixing some retrieval practice with class discussion.
The lesson began with a grid on the board (see example above and below) with a series of images, dates and words – these were all in some way related to a recent topic they had been studying – some were obvious, others a little more abstract. Without writing anything down, students were given 1 minute to try and remember as many of the different parts of the grid as they could. After a minute the screen went blank and students then had to write down what they could remember.
Once they had written as much as they could remember, students were allowed to confer in order to get the full set.
The first question asked of the students was ‘what strategies did you use to remember anything you saw?’ – a nice way of getting students to think about how they learn and strategies they use.
Then what followed was a nice discussion about what they remembered from the board and why, in relation to their recent studies, did the students feel the teacher had included the various words, dates and images.
The example below gives a sense of how this might work for a recap on various aspects of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.