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Topic Lead-ins

When introducing a new topic, consider using a warm-up activity that leads in to the content. Topic lead-ins can be used often (i.e., every time a new topic is introduced).

Topic lead-ins can...

  • generate interest in the topic
  • reveal participants' prior knowledge of the subject
  • assist in identifying individual learning needs and goals
  • surface resistance to discussing or learning about the topic

Examples of Topic Lead-ins

  1. Multiple Choice or True/False Quiz
    Administer a short (up to ten questions), ungraded multiple choice or true/false quiz at the onset of a session. Allow approximately five to ten minutes for students/participants to respond individually or in pairs/groups. Review the answers with the large group either immediately, or at the end of the session.
  2. Individual Lead-In Questions
    Consider giving students a couple of minutes to jot down their thoughts before asking for volunteers to respond to a lead-in statement/question (see examples below). To avoid repetition, ask volunteers to "share something different."
    • State one or two "burning questions" you hope will be answered in this class.
    • Describe one strategy/resource you have successfully employed relevant to the topic.
    • State your personal definition of the topic (e.g., in a statistics class, "What does the term variation mean to you?").

The following lead-ins are particularly useful when the subject matter challenges established beliefs or practices

  • State your opinion on the topic ("I think...").
  • Complete a phrase or phrases (e.g., in a developmental psychology class on parental approaches to discipline, "Spanking is ...").

References

Dover, K. H. "Topic Lead-ins." About Adult and Continuing Education (2005). Web. 30 Aug 2005.

Peterson, Deb. "Use an Ice Breaker to Pump Up Your Class." Deb's Continuing Education Blog. about.com, n.d. Web. 19 May 2010.

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