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21 Starter Questions for the Online Classroom

by Hetal Ascher, Tess Medlin | 24 Apr 2020
Resource Description: Class starters (warm-ups, do nows) are a great way to engage students at the beginning of a class. These starter questions are written for the online classroom. These starters encourage students to share their thoughts, have fun, and practice English.
Audience: Secondary
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Duration: 10 minutes
Materials and Technology: Number 13, a copy of the poem "Whatif" by Shel Silverstein -
Objective(s): To engage students in active discussion and language production.
Activity Description:
  1. Inspirational quotes can motivate us when we are feeling down. Share a quote that inspires or motivates you. Don’t forget to include the person who said it.
  2. Post a selfie of you with a family member, friend, or pet. Write two sentences describing them to your classmates.
  3. Many scientific studies have shown how gratitude can make us happier. Today let's focus on a positive mindset by sharing three things that we are thankful for. Click here to read an article in Harvard Health.
  4. Let’s have a debate! What is the best time of the day for assignments to be due in an online classroom? Why?
  5. Post a photo of an animal that is impacted by pollution. Write two sentences from the animal’s point of view.
  6. Post a photo of a place you would like to visit someday. Write two sentences explaining what is special about this place.
  7. Listening to music in English is a fun way to practice your listening skills. Recommend a song to your classmates.
  8. Write a sentence about one of your family members. Include a relative clause. For example, "My little sister is a clever girl who often steals my things."
  9. Find as many words as you can in the word, celebration, e.g. ‘belt’ 
  10. Post a photo of something happening. Write a sentence in past tense and use both simple past tense and past continuous tense. For example, “While I was walking by the beach, a seagull pooped on my head.”
  11. What are some advantages and disadvantages of online learning?
  12. Share a joke in English. If you think a classmate’s joke is funny, ‘like’ it.
  13. Poetry is a way for us to express our feelings. Read the poem by the famous poet, Shel Silverstein. The poem is about how sometimes we try to go to sleep and our worries keep us awake. Write one sentence that starts, “Whatif…” at the end, I will combine your sentences to make a class poem like Silverstein’s. 
  14. Share one new word you learned from today’s reading assignment. Include the English meaning and a picture.
  15. Write a simile for a classmate, friend, or family member. For example, my grandmother’s eyes are as bright as the moon.
  16. Let’s practice using reporting verbs. Find a photo of an animal that you think is cute or funny. Write a sentence using a reporting verb. For example, “The sea turtles have reported feeling very angry about all of the garbage in their home.”
  17. If you could visit any festival or holiday around the world, which festival would you visit and why?
  18. Let’s have a debate! Do you think aliens exist? Why or why not?
  19. Watching movies in English is an interesting way to learn English. What is your favorite movie and why do you think your classmates should watch it?
  20. Share a memorable event from your life. A memorable event can be a situation when you were really scared, really embarrassed, really proud, really touched, etc.
  21. Post a funny meme or gif that you think will cheer up your classmates. Write one sentence about it.