The English Classroom

A GUIDE TO IMPROVING STUDENT LITERACY

The Situation

Your students do not engage with the learning at the beginning of the lesson.


The Solution

The Hook of a lesson is an essential part of your lesson; it is the part of the lesson where students decide whether they care about what you have to say.

The Hook is a short opening into a lesson that creates a mental set for the learning that will take place. It frames the thinking of the student and gets them acquainted with the type of content of the lesson. In other words, it is like a segway into your learning intentions/objectives.

The Hook must be engaging! Without a hook, students are merely being told what they are learning without any context. Remember, students go from class to class. Math to Health to English to Sport. Aside from that they may have missed a meal, argued with friends or family. Plenty of things happen outside of your lesson that distract them from focusing on the content. Your job is to focus them on your learning objectives.

Remember, The Hook is not external from the learning of that lesson. It isn’t arbitrary, such as a word puzzle. It needs to be directly linked with the learning. There are a number of strategies that you might like to use to engage your audience:


Analogy

Start with a story. Stories are a great way to get students to care about a topic. It might be a personal story – though for professional reasons, do not go too personal. It might a be a story that you heard and relate to the learning. It might be an interesting fact linked to an analogy.

Stories are a great way to get students thinking about the lesson.


Media

You might like to show a short film or a song that is related to the learning. With songs, students can make predictions about their learning based on the song. With short films or documentaries, you might like to show students a TED Talk or something related directly to their learning. Perhaps, students need to make observations or notes from the video that will inform/impact their learning.

Here is a video that I played for students as The Hook before learning about Frankenstein:

This framed students to consider historical context, which was a central part of the lesson.


Physical prop

Bring in a prop, an item that is partial linked to the learning. Have students make their own connections and predictions based on the item.

For example, you could have a canvas bag filled with items. Students take an item and use adjectives to describe the object. You could give students a scenario (I found this item in my grandfather’s basement). They might guess who owned the item, or where it originated from.


Problem-solving

Present students with a problem or riddle that they need to solve. Consider the following riddle:

I run, yet I have no legs. What am I?

Riddles, such as the above, could be a great starting point for a discussion about how writers’ describe objects (The old, show don’t tell).


Similarities and Differences

Similarities and differences is a great way to get students to quickly categorise information.

Here is a hook that I use for an Inside Out film study. The lesson was focused on characterisation, but I want to get them familiar with the idea that our brains are complex and that we process the world in a unique way.



Get students to find patterns in images also allows them to make predictions for themselves about the learning that might take place. For example, how are these images connected to what we have learnt/are going to learn?


Predictions

You might like to get students to predict what they might be learning about:



One thought on “The Hook!

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