What’s Up Next?

From Soundtracks for Learning, Getting a Feel for the Facts

Memorable learning starts with giving students a “feel” for the topic of learning–letting them know more about what they will be studying before you start. It’s also about getting students engaged in the learning process.

“What’s Up Next” ideas are ways to introduce a topic. These short (2-3 minute) intros are a bridge between learner preparation and information presentation.

Provide a tempting lesson introduction by adding a mood-setting soundtrack to topic-related key words, fun facts, interesting metaphorical stories or revealing quotes. You can make this a humorous beginning, a dynamic motivator, an interesting factual start, an inspirational experience, or a mysterious guessing game. You’ll be amazed at how much more students listen to what you are saying when you have a musical soundtrack.

Check out the Sound Suggestions section for more specific ideas about which music to use! Try music from Set the Learning Pace” or Sounds-Like Suggestions.


Here’s a technique called “Fun Facts” that’s an easy starting point.

How it works. Select a few key aspects of the lesson you want to share and then decide which of the various organization options you want to use (see below). Soundtrack: select music that fits the mood of your introduction and play it quietly in the background while you read selected facts. If the information is humorous use upbeat and playful instrumental music, but play dramatic music for something that has important implications. You get the idea! For information about how to select music, check out Sound Suggestions under How-To’s.

Here are some examples of how to organize your information for an intriguing intro. Note that soundtracks for this activity should be instrumental as lyrics are too distracting.

  • Read facts describing practical use about a topic: “Here are 10 ways to use this . . .” “This provides people with . . .” Soundtrack: use a fast movement of Baroque-era music or Mozart’s music to convey a sense of order.
  • Give several mysterious hints to evoke curiosity: “Guess what can lift 10 times its weight?” “What cannot be seen but sees all?” Soundtrack: play mysterious-sounding music as you speak.
  • Present a series of interesting facts that relate the topic to daily life, like “25 ways automobiles have changed our lives” if you’re studying transportation. Soundtrack: to hold student interest, support the facts with music that has movement.
  • Share amazing facts that highlight the topic’s significance: “This is the biggest . . “ “Used by all presidents . . .” etc. Soundtrack: play dynamic music to emphasize the amazing facts.
  • Read a list of facts that emphasize the importance of the topic: “The first . . .” “The turning point . . .” Soundtrack: choose stately music to add to the feeling of importance.
  • Add fun and stimulate interest with silly facts: “It helps ducks float” –“What all kids want but won’t get”. Soundtrack: play music that is energetic and light.
  • Play a guessing game about a particular topic, like “What part of the human body is a water purification system?” Soundtrack: use upbeat music to energize students and keep them guessing! Have them write down their guesses and share them after the presentation.

How-to give a Fun Facts Introduction:

Start your music and let it play for a few seconds to draw student attention to What’s Up Next. Begin sharing the Fun Facts–reading each one slowly above the soundtrack music. Use a tone of voice that is compatible with the mood you are setting. Pause between each fact and look at your students to gain eye contact. Then go on to the next fact. When you have read all your facts, tell students that this is just the beginning and slowly fade your music down. Now that you have their attention focused on the topic, move on to the unit of study!

Sound like fun? It is.

Keep the Beat Going–To extend this activity, you can revisit your Fun Facts introduction by using it to close out the learning session. Repeat verbatim with the same music. This gives students a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned. You’ll find students like this short interludes and look forward to them.

Other ways to introduce topics include:

You Can Quote Me with variations such as

  • Mystery topic
  • Mysterious People
  • Inspiring Learning

Key Words focusing on key vocabulary words.

Watch for more welcoming ideas on my blog or purchase Soundtracks for Learning to get started now.

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