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10 engaging starter ideas for business lessons

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Link to download free PowerPoint with 50+ starters HERE

The most successful and engaging starters have two halves, the part you put on the board with instructions and the second part is what you do after. With a bit of practice, you will get this down to a fine art. Ask a question on the board, then get the answer from the students, and there are lots of ways you can do this. Here are just 10 suggestions (well done if you read them all!):

1. Line all students up in a "line of opinion". How do they feel about a topic? This usually works best with ethics or the environment. Assign the window as "I don't care about the environment I just buy the products from wherever I want..." The door is "I care deeply about the environment and I am very careful about the brands that I buy". Then the students by the door have to persuade those by the window to come to their side. This works on their persuasive argument techniques. Those students in the middle of the room who are not sure either way, once they have listened to the arguments are they now convinced? Can they move? Are they ready to move? What would a business have to do to get them to move?

2. Definitions. Have some keywords on your whiteboard. These can be from the last topic or from ages ago, a great retrieval exercise. Students come up to the board give a definition and cross it off or circle it once they have given their explanation. The rest of the students can offer edits but only once the person at the front has finished.

3. All about them. Put a slide on the board which is all about the students, their workload (HRM), school rules (culture) and so on. There is lots of evidence that brains are better able to link ideas if they can link something new to something they already know about. It also gets them talking starting with a topic they are comfortable with.

4. Best guesses. Put a few questions on a slide (not too many) and ask them to guess, allowing discussion between themselves while you set up your lesson. Best questions have statistical answers and it sets the scene for the topic with students already thinking about it before you start. This engages them from the outset. Even students chatting off-topic will end up looking at the board and having a think about your questions especially if you say "get your answer ready I will be picking someone to answer at random in a moment".

5. Giant photos. Put huge photos on the board (2 max) with a very simple question. Once the question has been answered as if anyone has any questions about the photos or any opinions they would like to share. What do they notice? What is happening? What do the pictures tell us?

6. Odd ones out. Ask a question on a slide that only has one correct answer but you throw in some rogue words, can they sport the correct ones? If they can't suggest that this is an opportunity to revise the topic and has identified a learning need in some students. A good way to start talking about revision techniques and suggest they write up flash cards after every lesson.

7. Three Quick questions. There is lots of evidence that 3 is a special number in maths (I won't go into that here) and is aesthetically pleasing (how many times have you seen three candles or 3 cacti in a shop for sale)? Ask 3 quick questions and choose a high achieving student, a student on middle grades and one of your improvers to answer. This helps you to stimulate all three groups at the start. Sometimes if you just pick hand us you will always get the same students answering and the others sit passively. The aim is to get all your students thinking for all your starters.

8. Thinking caps on. Start a lesson off with a very random item and ask for some creative thinking. The best example of this I have is the old 'take a potato and design some products for added value' lesson.

9. Short video. A short video clip will give you about 3 minutes to set up, hand out worksheets, and hand back work. When it is over ask students to explain the key term to someone else in the group. You can assign them pairs or you can let them pair themselves. This makes sure that they all participate and not just one student is working hard at an explanation.

10. Quick on the draw. Ask students to draw a sketch illustrating something you have put on the board. These mini whiteboard packs are excellent for this kind of activity. There is always an element of students drawing other things but allow this as the point is that they enjoy starters and it pulls them into the lesson. Bonus with mini whiteboards they have to put their phones down.

Need more ideas?

Every business teaching resources pack from Revisionstation includes a starter for every single topic in the syllabus. Tried and tested activities that draw students into the lessons. Have a look at our free samples and download as many as you want here:

Hope this has been helpful

Sarah Hilton

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