Most teachers were using the prior knowledge templates and found that they generated a lot of discussion, often resulting in learning intentions and success criteria. Children were coming in after breaks and looking straight on the board for the discussion question.
All teachers were now listening more, taking a step back as children are articulating their thinking. Misconceptions are revealed more quickly.
This strategy promotes mixed ability learning, as the open questions allow all pupils to respond. All are engaged and the questions are not threatening because there is usually no one right answer.
At times, the planned lesson has been adapted as a result of this lesson start.
North Wales Team 1
One teacher had used the ‘odd one out’ starter using a 2 digital and one analogue clock face. Children were all on task and thinking out loud. One children answered and realised he had made a mistake mid answer and self-corrected. Another teacher used this starter for ‘wood, plastic, stone’. Because there was no correct answer, children’s talk highlighted their current understanding of the topic of materials.
One teacher gave the children the statement ‘The butterfly comes out of an egg’ and asked whether they agreed or not. This revealed the limitations of their knowledge and language.
At the start of a new topic ‘Fun in the sun’, I asked pupils about the types of food and drink they would like in hot weather. Charlie said he liked making cherry and strawberry ice-cream. This led to Charlie’s Chilly-pops: ice lollies we could make and sell (entrepreneurship is promoted in the school).
Lollies were made and the idea of a mini summer-fayre was developed.
The stalls were:
Charlie chilly pops (science and capacity)
Guess the name of the bear (Literacy)
My mug (plain mugs named and decorated)
Tombola (mats – reading double digit number)
Parents were invited to bring money to spend and help pupils with numeracy skills. Pupils manned the stalls and parents participated with money calculations.
Children were quite disgruntled the following week when they were given plastic coins for money work!
Sarah Stockford – Ysgol Y Foryd
All teachers had used ‘true or false’ for maths. This had highlighted common misconceptions. The questions allowed children to talk and justify their answers. They understand that you can still be right even if someone else answers differently.
Having talk partners helps the process and gives them greater understanding of what they are learning.
North Wales Team 2
Teachers brainstormed at the start of a topic with children, which informed planning and helps with appropriate pitch.
As lesson starters, the statement has led to a good understanding of current knowledge, as they are more open when discussing with a partner than in front of the class.
True or false (e.g. Spain is on Asia’s continent. True or false? Show me in the atlas) was effective. Also in maths (e.g. 3×7=12. Discuss). Teachers know the children’s starting point by their responses.
Put in order (e.g. 2 digit numbers) allowed teachers to differentiate tasks.
One teacher showed the class a clock face with just the hour hand and asked what the time was. This really made children think about the hour hand and its position within an hour.
Before the children enter the room I set up a prior knowledge question on the board. That links with the bulls eye zones poster. For example:
Put these in order from smallest to largest
93, 72, 12, 21, 33, 46
101, 99, 273, 463, 79, 521
999, 1002, 1080, 879, 897, 1200
The children treat the starter task using the bullseye as they would the main task. They look at the sections and if they are in the comfort zone they move on to the next line. If they start at the bottom and find themselves in the panic zone, then they pick another line.
Bronwen Prytherch – Victoris CP, Wrexham
Using prior knowledge questions and listening to children’s discussions enabled misconceptions to be revealed.
All had used the ‘odd one out’, which as useful in phonics and led to children reasoning and explaining.
The ‘range of answers’ and ‘true or false’ had also been used with the same results. ‘What went wrong’ and concept cartoons had been used to uncover misconceptions.
I find using these starters in phonics really useful, especially working out fake and real words. We do odd one out and the children have to explain why to their learning partner or how did you know (explain what the real words mean).