Lesson planning

24 March 2023

Three ways to motivate pupils' learning and hook them into a new topic

Melanie McGhee

School Support Officer

Returning after school holidays can be the perfect opportunity to motivate pupils and reignite their love for learning. This is a great time to introduce a new topic or learning focus. This doesn’t have to include creating a brand new set of teaching resources to support your new topic; reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary!

In this blog, we share three ways to motivate your pupils when starting a new topic, setting the right tone for your classes without adding to your workload.

  1. Begin with a ‘hook’

    Do you want to begin your first lessons back by sparking your pupil’s curiosity? You could ‘hook’ your pupils into their new learning focus by:

    - Explaining why you’re particularly looking forward to sharing this subject with your pupils and why it’s important to you as their class teacher.

    - Creating a quick one-minute ‘trailer’ for your pupils where you talk through the highlights of the learning they are about to embark on with you to increase anticipation.

    - Explaining some of the key concepts you will be exploring together and relevant links to previous learning that you will be building upon.
  2. Make learning purposeful and relevant

    Lessons that do not build on previous learning content risk not being retained and truly understood by your pupils.

    Make sure that your introductory lessons make clear links to your curriculum journey so that pupils clearly understand the relevance and value of their learning experience, in addition to understanding the skills that they are gaining.
  3. Remember to quiz previous learning

    Although you’re moving onto a new learning focus with your classes, it’s important to retain previous knowledge and use this as a foundation for the next steps of their learning journey.

    Not only does this create a cohesive learning experience, it also secures a feeling for success right from the start for your pupils and acts as a valuable diagnostic tool for classroom teachers.

    You will be able to quickly address knowledge gaps and continue to address common misconceptions. Interleaving with your new curriculum focus will boost the retention of new knowledge and aid pupils in understanding the relevance of their new learning.

    Low-stakes quizzes can be an excellent teaching resource to use for simple fact retrieval and are an excellent way to start the lesson. There are many options you could choose to source your quizzes, including Oak. You'll find starter and exit quizzes in many of our lessons across KS1, KS2, KS3 and KS4.

    Head to the individual lesson pages to download quizzes.

How can Oak National Academy equip you to motivate pupils?

  • Easily find teaching resources from a variety of lessons or units of work. Use them as a foundation for your planning and adapt them to your needs, to help reduce the resource-creation workload.
  • Build your own subject knowledge when learning a new topic through expert explanations via video.
  • Access free personal development webinars to build pedagogical understanding.

You may also be interested in:

How to design a unit of study

How to build your confidence in teaching a new subject or topic

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