As a group of probationer teacher researchers we discussed areas of our work that we were interested in developing our knowledge of through an enquiry. Our group then decided to examine the possible effects of starter tasks on the class’ readiness for learning.
Starter tasks are able to:
- ‘hook the learner’ into a lesson by developing the relationship between initial activity and learning intention (Phillips, 2001)
- improve learner’s ability in ‘connecting the learning’ (Smith, 1998)
- be used as ‘management techniques’ for disruption levels (DfE, 2004).
In each of our classrooms we introduced a starter activity asking 10 questions with a timed element. Primary classrooms and Secondary maths used the online source ‘Daily 10’ (Topmarks, 2020) to give the learners a random selection of questions. A focus group was chosen from each class and both observations and informal discussions were recorded. Questionnaires were used to gauge how ready the group felt to learn.
Each research piece found similar results within the class:
- Students’ readiness was linked to the success they felt from completion of the starter task.
- Relation of starter task to subsequent lesson impacted on readiness.
- Students themselves felt an increased readiness to learn after completing the starter task.
From these findings, the research group have taken that starter tasks are beneficial to plan in order to revise previous learning and introduce new concepts. A settled routine improved transition periods in the classroom. Differentiating the tasks will allow increased self-esteem of pupils and this will make a positive impact on their readiness to learn.