This book is a follow-up to Kate Brown’s Secondary Starters and Plenaries which is now republished and rebranded to fit in with a developing series of books by Bloomsbury on Starters and Plenaries. Brown’s book was very good with plenty of ideas and strategies to help invigorate lessons – although one or two ideas would take a significant amount of time to prepare and certainly fitted in with Jim Smith’s principle of ‘firework learning’ – a task which would take hours to prepare and would take moments within a lesson.
Mike Gershon has rightly developed a large following in education for his resources through his profile in the TES Resources website and, in particular, his resources, such as The Starter Generator, has been used in many contexts and CPD sessions. This makes him the right man to pick up the baton in this series and this book builds upon the great work he has shared on TES Resources and contains the best ideas that he has shared on the web. However, the book delves deeper and offers for each of the 50 strategies a detailed overview, teacher tips and extensions building upon the original idea. The book is very comprehensive and is more detailed in its coverage for each activity than most books. Many ideas are easy to implement, although some may need some preparation time. However, once you have created the framework for the activity you then can easily adapt it for other lessons.
If I was to offer a criticism of this book, I think some of the activities can be easily used as main lesson activities rather than starters or plenaries and this is underplayed in the book. For example, the Defend Your Statement task – where you offer a number of statements which students have to find evidence and make an argument to support a particular statement can be used very effectively in a lesson for an exam class. I used this as the main lesson activity and this provided excellent opportunities for students to practice a wide range of exam-related skills. This perhaps could not have been the case if this was restricted to a starter or plenary.
This is a little gem of a book bursting with great ideas and creative suggestions on how they can be applied in lesson for all subjects. Very detailed bursting with creative suggestions which would enhance any lesson which needed greater creativity with an active approach.