5 Creative Ways to Get Students’ Attention

How to Hook Students at the Beginning of a Lesson

Ever been to a conference where the keynote speaker started out with… “Take out your textbook and turn to page 24”?

Me neither.

If they did… well their audience would probably either head for the exit or start playing Candy Crush on their iphone.

Great speakers and great teachers know how important it is to hook their listeners at the beginning of a lesson.

Begin every lesson with the unexpected to engage students.  Here are some tips:

Five ways to get student attention at the beginning of a lesson:

1.  Regroup the class–form groups or partners.  Move to the floor for a story or line up for an activity. Stand up or sit on the floor.  Have students sit on their desks.  Not only will you get their interest but movement makes our lives healthier.  Studies have shown that students and adults spend way too much time sitting. Get the class moving and wondering what is going to happen next.

2.  Do the unexpected.  Tell them NOT to take out their books, or a pencil and paper.  Put away books and begin with a clean desk.  Create a surprising environment in the classroom, by using decorations to create a theme.  Wear a hat, a vest or a use a prop and have the students guess how it is used in the lesson.

3.  Ask an open-ended question.  Here is one of my favorite interchanges with a kindergarten class:

Me:  Today we are going to talk about farms.  What is a farm?

Student:  A farm is where farmers live.

Me:  Some farmers raise chickens.  What do we get from chickens?

Student:  Bacon and eggs!!

Me:  Some farmers raise buffalo.  What do we get from buffalo?

Student:  Buffalo wings!

(Sometimes these things don’t go quite as you expected…)

4.  Use visuals.   YouTube videos, news clips and clips from popular movies are all great resources. Picture books are great for all ages.  Find a captivating image and show it.  Ask for feedback:  what is happening? what will happen next?  how would you change it?

5.  Play a game, act out a role play.  This can take a few minutes and lead into the lesson. Games can demonstrate cooperation, team building and goal setting.  Play twenty-one questions to guess a historical figure or two truths and a lie to identify facts about their life.  Give a few students a script or have them ad lib a situation.

What ever you do, begin each lesson with something that will hook your audience, spark their interest and create positive endorphins.  Not only will you engage their attention, but you will also make the lesson more memorable.

What other ideas do you have to engage student attention?  Let me know in the comment section.

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