Hall Houston’s Six novel ways to introduce a topic

thecreativeclassroomI’ve long believed that one of the keys to a good lesson is the beginning (like a film, or piece of music). I was really happy when Hall Houston, the author of The Creative Classroom (pictured left), offered to do a list based on how to introduce a topic at the start of a lesson. I’d agree with him 100% when he says that “Ideally, a good introduction should get students thinking about the topic BEFORE they open their course books. It should help students consider what they already know about the topic and present some useful vocabulary.” Sounds like a tall order? Well, here are six ways on how to do exactly that.

1. Using a dictation. Dictate 5 sentences that hint at the topic without revealing it. For example, if your lesson is about a country, you should read out some facts about it. It’s best to start with harder clues and gradually work towards easier ones. Check the dictation by having students write the sentences up on the board. Point out any errors. Now ask students to guess the topic.

2. Using images. Tell the class your topic. Show a few photos that have some connection with your topic (project them or hold them up) and ask 6 students to stand on the left and right sides of the board (3 on each side). Tell them to write some vocabulary related to what they see in the pictures. They should leave the middle of the board blank. Next, put the photos away. Ask six different students to come to the board and collaborate on a drawing, based on the words the other students wrote.

3. Using a sentence. Write the topic in big letters on the board. Read out a short sentence related on the topic. This can be part of a text they will read later, or something you wrote. Put students into small groups and ask each group to expand the sentence by adding 4 words. After a few minutes, invite each group to read out their sentence.

4. Using sounds. Play a sound collage of several people talking about the topic without actually saying what the topic is. Invite several students to guess the topic.

5. Using the students’ mother tongue. This next activity is best suited for monolingual classes. Announce the topic. Ask a student to give a 2-minute lecture or tell a short anecdote related to your topic. BUT, the student will speak in his or her native language. After the student is finished, put students into small groups and ask them to write 3 test questions in English to ask you about the lecture. When everyone is finished, ask each group to give you one of their questions, and do your best to answer (This can be quite amusing for the students if you are not very proficient in their language!). Finally, get the class to decide on your grade for the test.

6. Using a previous topic. Tell the class your topic, and ask them to recall a topic you covered 2 or 3 lessons ago. Write both topics on the board. Put students into groups of 3 or 4 and ask them to find 2 similarities and 2 differences between the two topics. After a few minutes, ask each group to read out their ideas.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 9:25 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Where I work all the classrooms have internet-linked computers with projectors, so I prefer to introduce a new topic through pictures from the web. It becomes easy to elicit lots of vocabulary, and the lesson gets off to a ‘glossy’ start (even though it goes sharply downhill from there on!).

    Last week I logged on to the Queen’s website before doing a reading comp about Buck Palace. The students were interested to know why the Queen’s husband wasn’t the King of England!

  2. Hi,

    Cricket as we know is currently the second most followed sport after soccer, with many countries now getting in cricket, can cricket overtake soccer as the most followed sports ever?

  3. Earth Hour in 2010 takes place on Saturday 27 March and can be a global call to action to each and every person, each business and every one community around the world.

    May you be involved?

  4. Hello guys,

    My name is Oliver and I am from Stirling in the UK. I have in recent past discovered this forum and I like it very much.
    I am a little bit shy so I wont write much about myself but maybe when I will get more confortable, you will get to know me better!
    My main hobbies are cooking and watching movies. I also like outdoor activites but the temperature has been very bad for the last days or so here in Stirling.

    I was wondering if anyone else here is from the UK too?

    I am happy to have joined this forum!

    PS: Sorry if this was posted in the wrong section. I could not find the right one!

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