Six Stunning Seconds

Following the last blog, the SMCC Geography Department has given consideration to the ‘Six Second Rule’ when planning engaging starters to lessons. This premise recognises the belief that people make decisive gut-feeling judgements in an initial six second window – for instance, when they consider job applications, form opinions when they meet people for the first time, and so on. Could it be possible that this also applies to students’ when they enter our classrooms? Hook them in the first seix seconds, and effective learning will surely follow.

We have already done a lot of work gathering resources to use as engaging lesson starters, so we tried to identify the best techniques that would help us apply ‘six stunning seconds’ to the opening of a lesson.

The favourite technique was the projection of unusual, thought-provoking ‘mystery’ images as the students entered the room – often associated to a simple short work task written  alongside such as ‘step into the photograph’

Some favourite images are included in the slideshow below. These are just examples to illustrate my point and I have not been able to acknowledge sources here (apologies to those with ownership rights), Of course you are all aware that no copyright laws should ever be broken in the classroom.

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The images include a Worldmapper map of deaths from disasters, a Chinese Coca Cola can, Cork bark being taken (sustainably) from a tree, a doctored flooding image, cotton from the Cote D’Ivoire, an observation tower on the Mexico-USA border, a raised trailer to avoid flood water, and African salt ponds.

What images can you offer me to add to my collection?

Apart from photograph images, other favourite techniques to exploit the fertility of those first six seconds include:

a) Newspaper headlines (such as ‘Dead are buried in vats of honey’ – used to introduce lessons on India’s monsoon season). These can be realistically created using the newspaper clipping generator on the web site www.fodey.com

b) Music (such as an extract from Billy Joel’s ‘Downeaster Alexa’ to introduce work on declining industries

c) Artefacts (such as rock samples of pumice, lava and obsidian to introduce a lesson on volcanic activity

d) Cartoons (many available on the internet for a variety of topics

e) ‘Rogue data’ (such as a climate graph with some obvious mistakes) to introduce a lesson on tourism, ecosystems etc

Perhaps the same six second principle should be applied to plenaries that close lessons?

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About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
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