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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 ...").


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., n.d. Web. 19 May 2010.

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