Develop a winning formula
Never let it be said that teachers shouldn’t mix up lessons a bit, but there needs to be a basis on which this can be done successfully. As I’ve mentioned above and many times previously, I use a lot of music in my lessons. For example, students enter the classroom to a theme tune (think: Rocky, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc.) and know to write down the date, title and lesson objective. I then take the register whilst slower writers catch-up and those finished consider what the lesson’s keywords might mean. It works for me!
I always like to have some music on the go. Very often, I find it on www.last.fm which is great for finding individual tracks, but even better when using it to stream music from artists similar to the one you’ve picked. Often I use themes relating to the lesson e.g. Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind when introducing Simon Armitage’ ‘Hitcher’, or John Martyn’s John the Baptist’for Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Salome’. I also have some favourites to suit the day (Singing in the Rain comes in quite useful in Yorkshire, and it’s always nice to be able to use Let it snow). My principle usually though is to play music the students probably haven’t come across before.
I do like the idea of having students record the lesson objectives (or ‘learning outcomes’ I suppose I should say now).I’ve been playing around recently with trying to express them as questions to be explored rather than the behaviourist language that has been popular for the last few years. Perhaps I could combine this in the plenary/consolidation phase of the lesson and get students to traffic light their understanding? It could be quite useful as another way of assessing the level of level of confidence/competence in the lesson’s content. It would also act as a useful summary for students – as often the product of their work exists away from their books.