The Online PD

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Creating a Strong Hook

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The hook is the beginning part of any lesson. Sometimes people also call it an opening. I think “hook” is a better description of what really needs to happen at the beginning of a lesson. Great teachers pull their kids in right away and sell them on what they’re about to learn. Think it’s not that important? Think about the last staff meeting or professional development you went to. Chances are if the presenter didn’t convince you in the first 5-10 minutes that what you were about to learn was important and relevant to you then you probably didn’t pay much attention. I am guilty of it myself.

The Elements of a Strong Hook:

* Explains what students are about to learn.

* Explains why what they are about to learn is important.

* Connects what they are about to learn to what they already know

* Explains how the learning will take place (the day’s agenda).

* Captures students interest.

Ideas For How to Hook Your Students:

1) Demonstration

When I think of demonstrations I think of Mr.Wizard – the old science show from the 80’s. Demonstrations areusually simple labs that are easier for the teacher to perform while students watch. You can find hundreds of demonstrations online. Here is one of my favorites: Density Demo.

2) Discrepant event

Discrepant events are a type of demonstration that taps into common misconceptions. They usually have a big “ooooh, aaaah” factor to them. Because they demonstrate laws of nature that often conflict with common beliefs they motivate students to learn more. Here’s a link to one of my favorite discrepant events: surface tension.

3) KWL chart

KWL stands for Know, Want to Know, Learned. It is a good way to get students to access what they alread know. You can then build off what they know to increase their interest in what they’re going to learn that day. KWL Chart Template

4) Quickwrite

This is just a short writing prompt that can help tap into students’ prior knowledge. For example, “Has the earth always looked the way it does today? If not, how has it changed? what changed it?”

5) Read an interesting article or blurb

This could be something from a newspaper or a source that your students find relevant. For example, when I was in the classroom scientists were debating if Pluto was really a planet during our solar system unit. To open up the lesson on the characteristics of a planet my students read a short article about the ongoing debate.

6) Real world problem

One of the math teachers I work with includes a real world problem in his structured notes each day. Every day he tells his students “after you meet this objective, you’ll be able to solve this real-life problem.” It’s applicable and engaging at the same time. Here’s an example of one of Mike’s real world connections: Mike’s “get real” problem

7) Video or audio clip

A few weeks ago I was observing a teacher and he opened his lesson with a video clip from mythbusters about what happens when you take the safety valve off a hot water heater. He captured every student in the room’s attention. With the invention of YouTube it has never been easier to find exciting clips.

8.) Contraversial statements or hot topics

Put a contraverial quote on the board, bring up a current topic in the news, or a hot debate that ties into that day’s objective.

Do you have other ideas for great hooks? Please pass them along!

Written by theonlinepd

February 21, 2008 at 9:28 pm

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