What techniques do you use to begin a lesson?

Last week in my Teaching Adults class, Dr. Day began class by setting a xylophone on the table. While he did not immediately use it, it did make use wonder how it would be used in the class. He stirred a sense of curiosity in us.

This particular lesson seemed to focus on strategies for gaining attention. Dr. Day explained that there were a number of ways to start a class. He outlined a number of methods that he used such as social action theater and story problems, items such as the xylophone, and short video clips.

I had not used social action theater and story problems in a class, but the idea was interesting. Here is what I discovered about this method of teaching.

Social action theater uses short skits to introduce a topic for further discussion. The skits are written by the performers and may include audience participation. The University of Wisconsin group entertains questions while the performers stay in character.  The topics are typically social issues such as racism, discrimination, homophobia, sexism, etc. Here is a list of topics from the University of Wisconsin.

I did a quick search in Google on “using theater to teach.” I was pleased to find examples discussing how to use theater to teach math, sciences, history, English, teen topics, political rights, clinical empathy, etc.  The possibilities seem endless. I personally would like to see it in action.

By using strategies such as social action theater, video clips, and unique items such as a xylophone, educators can make learning interesting. As I mentioned in a previous post, if learners are interested, they will engagement, and engagement leads to learning.

As for the xylophone, Dr. Day used it to have us think about how we would use it in one of our lessons.