Getting students engaged and excited at the start of the class becomes more of a challenge as the year goes on. Every year (and sometimes semester) I have to come up with new ways of hooking the kids into the lesson, or giving them warm-ups, so that they get excited and stay engaged. These are two ways I do just that. (Part 2 is HERE)
1) Play hangman!!! My students get excited right when they walk through the door because they see hangman set up on the board. I make the word or phrase they are trying to guess something related to the topic of the day. Ideally, based on what they learned the day before, they should be able to make educated guesses about it, though depending on the students, I might have 1-3 questions or keywords related to the overarching topic on the board to act as clues. We then have a quick discussion about how the answer they guessed for hangman connects to what they learned yesterday and what they will be learning that day.
2) Play two truths and a lie!!! Sometimes I will have 3 statements written on the board about the topic for the day. Using the information learned the day before, students will discuss the 3 statements in pairs and determine which 2 they believe to be true about the topic and which 1 statement is false. We then have a whole class vote on which is which, I affirm their identifications of the true and false statements, then we have a quick discussion about how the true statements will play into the topic and why the false statement is false.
The trick is getting the kids settled and as focused as quickly as possible, and at least the last couple of years with my sophomores, games and competitions seem to work pretty well. Here’s the other thing, these types of hooks and warm ups are a lot more fun for you as a teacher. Let’s be real, playing hangman is way more fun than handing out a sheet with some questions on it and having to correct them all later. This way, the whole class is on the same page about the material, the kids are smiling and engaged, and will therefore hopefully soak up the day’s material a bit more willingly and easily.
I find over and over that kids learn best when they are having fun, and my students have definitely had fun with these methods. I hope if you try them out yours will too!!! If you want more topic intro ideas (or even for wrap ups or reviews) I have a few thoroughly detailed in this FREE SAMPLE of my Back to School bundle, and many (including pictures with examples) in the full version. Click HERE to read about one of my favorite ways to incorporate primary source images into my lessons, HERE you can find 3 other ways to introduce a new topic, and THIS post has 3 ways to fill time at the end of class.
How do you get kids excited and engaged at the start of class? I’d love to read about it in the comments :-).