Very often in PRE I find that I am teaching a topic which is abstract, and which might require a subjective response from students. This goes with the territory of exploring issues within philosophy and ethics and with analysing and evaluating religious beliefs.

But for some students the idea that there is ‘No right answer’ pushes them beyond their comfort zone. The value of justifying arguments is a core skill, but it requires practice and a certain amount of ‘letting go’ of the idea of a correct factual response.

So when as we returned to virtual learning there was an opportunity to allow some low-stakes practice of thinking in abstract terms. While we are waiting for the whole class to arrive at the Google Meet I have tried to intersperse starter activities which encourage open-ended thinking with those that introduce a topic, or recall past learning.

Some ideas for open-ended starters – with no ‘right’ answers – might be:

– Would you rather?

– Open-ended questions

– Padlet discussions

– If this is the answer, what could the question be?

– Thunks

– I couldn’t disagree more…

– Symbolic or metaphorical questions…

I have made a power point to share these ideas along with a few more fact-based starters. They are all ideas I’m sure everyone has seen before, but I’m hoping for myself that having them all in one place will save me a bit of time when searching for a quick activity to keep all the students engaged until it is time to start the live lesson.