When introducing a new topic, resist the temptation to introduce it by having the students read something first. Instead, try:
K-W-L (and the List-Group-Label subset) is an extremely effective way to activate prior knowledge and also stimulate interest in the subject. The K-W-G-L variation asks students where they need to go (primary sources only) to find the answer to their questions.
You can also pose a “What if?” type question related to the topic to stimulate discussion.
The 3-2-1 Review structure asks students to write down three things they remember, two things they learned, and one thing they don't understand from the previous lesson.
Strengths and Stretches asks students to respond to two prompts about the previous lesson:
The Dictogloss structure encourages students to listen to verbal content once, and then to take notes while listening a second time.
It Says, I Say, And So is an effective structure for teaching students how to make reasonable conclusions based on the evidence they're presented with. It also teaches them to make predictions.
The Get the Gist structure has students read a short passage of four or five paragraphs. As they finish the paragraph, they write a one-sentence summary of the paragraph and number the sentence. Once they have read and summarized each paragraph, they then re-read the summaries to check and see if it covers the same concepts as the source. This structure can also be adapted to a word-count target as well.
You can use exit slips to gauge learning and get simple feedback from students as they prepare to leave the classroom.
The What I've Learned structure can be used periodically to help build a knowledge base for future students while also reinforcing the most important academic and social achievements the students have made in your class.