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As a warm-up to a new topic, perform a K-W-L (Know-Want-to-Know-Learned) analysis. The teacher should write "Know” on the board and ask students what they already know on the topic: The Vietnam War, for example, if the reading focuses on that. The teacher should then list student answers on the board. Then write "Want to Know” on the board and ask students what they want to know on the topic and note their responses.
The students should then read the material and after discuss what they learned. Using this method, the students get primed for the reading and have focus questions to answer and discuss after the reading.
A good first-day warmer is to discuss any interesting talents we might have. Everyone has something unique or near-unique they can do. For example, one student play several musical instruments; another might be able to create a scary story impromptu. While not strictly "unique”, these are fun and interesting talents to share that make remembering each other easier.
At the beginning of a class, in the first days, an interest survey is a good idea. Have students—anonymously, if they wish—fill out a survey on the topics they would like to discuss. Providing them with some alternatives related to the course content and objectives is a good idea. At the same time, the teacher can get an idea of which language skills students are most interested in working on: speaking or writing, for example. Later, the teacher can compile the results of the survey to use as a plan for the curriculum.
Taking into consideration student interest and goals increases student motivation and retention.
My Ideal Mate
Begin the discussion by introducing the topic and brainstorming some personal qualities on the board: intelligent, has sense of humor, etc. Then pose the question of who students’ ideal mates are. Model a response as necessary: "My ideal mate is someone who is intelligent and caring and successful in his or her career…”
Needs Assessment or How Are We Doing?
At the beginning of a course, conduct a needs assessment: find out what students are interested in learning related to the course content. For example, if it’s a class in writing, are they more interested in writing for academic or for business purposes? Then, periodically throughout the class, informally poll students on if they feel their learning needs are being met. Let their responses in both cases help guide the curriculum.
What Words Go Together?