If you’ve ever watched the Food Network show, Chopped, you know that one of the most important elements the judges consider is presentation. Without that, your tasty dish loses some of its value. And, yet, a tomato tastes like a tomato, regardless of how it looks, right?  So, why go to all the trouble to make it look “just so”? Why does presentation matter?

The truth is that the way it looks will either heighten one’s appreciation or lessen one’s desire for the food on the plate.

It’s not just about food, though.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “dress for success”?  Why do employment books advise this when looking for a job? It’s because “you only get one chance to make a first impression,” and “the first impression is the lasting impression.” Regardless of your skills, your appearance will affect how potential employers consider your job application.

There is something about how we are wired that makes the introduction to a food or a person significant. In fact, it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being well-received.

When it comes to learning, the same principle applies.

Do you remember ever walking into school, to a class in which you had no interest? There were rules—pay attention to the lesson, read the text, answer the questions, take the test—yet none of it made a vibrant, meaningful connection to your life?  I’ve pondered this for nearly half a century, and have come to the conclusion that it’s not the fault of the academic subject.  It’s the way the material is presented, even in the way it is first introduced.  You see, the introduction matters.

Instead of, “Sit down, open your book, outline the chapter, and BE QUIET!”, what happens if we introduce students to a new chapter in history through a lively tune, a fun game, and a movie trailer?

Inviting them into a new world of learning, welcoming them through an auditory experience, a kinesthetic activity, and a visual connection, creates a first impression that draws them in with exuberance!  I mean, who doesn’t like to PLAY?  That kind of introduction to the subject is a great beginning, and it jump-starts motivation.

Let me say that again. A good introduction jump-starts your students’ MOTIVATION! It can make the difference between dragging your kids through a “boring” subject and them eagerly running ahead of you to discover more.

So, that’s why we included a “grab their attention” introduction—three different options at the beginning of each unit (chapter) in each Teacher Guide of the History Revealed curriculum.

Why not give it a try???

Sample an introduction.

To give you a taste of this, here are my suggestions to introduce Napoleon and the Napoleonic Era, from World Empires, World Missions, World Wars (page T17a of the Teacher’s Guide):

  1. For the Auditory Students: To capture their attention at the very beginning of class, consider playing a recording of “La Marseillaise,” the French National Anthem.
  2. For the Kinesthetic Students: Have the students play “follow the leader” as one volunteer takes them through physical actions to represent traveling from England to India at the end of the 1700s (a sea voyage and then an astonishingly different culture at journey’s end).
  3. For the Visual Students: Play a trailer from the movie Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce.

Can you imagine the ways students will perk up, start asking questions, and have FUN through this simple start?

Next week, we will consider the powerful impact of helping students “connect the dots” from what they already know and what they are about to learn. It’s powerful!!

Stay relational!