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May 11, 2017 Hook Student Interest Quickly and Effectively By Shari Edwards
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    My students have just settled in their seats to begin a reading strategy class when my cell phone rings. This is not a normal occurrence but they get quiet just as if there was a knock on the door. I answer the call and start speaking in a quiet voice but as the call continues and my voice gets a little louder, they can’t resist listening in. Their curiosity piques as my voice registers alarm with each question I ask my caller. As they listen quietly, my students naturally begin to try to piece together the circumstances of the caller’s predicament from my end of the conversation. (They are inferring that the caller is stuck in her car in a car wash down the street from the school and it won’t stop to allow her to drive out!) I end the call and turn back to the class. ALL eyes are on me as I start a conversation on inference; an activity they have been directly involved in for the last three minutes. As the lesson progresses, my students or I will refer to the phone call experience several times. They are hooked, hook, line, and sinker!

    Sometimes, teachers are tempted to skip the focus activity out of time pressures or a misunderstanding of its purpose, or they resort to a standard template that they use for every lesson:
    "Yesterday we learned ___________ and today we will learn __________."
    That sentence takes under a minute to say and then we're off to the more important stuff, right?

    But wait!

    Research tells us that our brains seek out novelty and often ignore what they think they've already heard. That three- to five-minute portion of the lesson that focuses students on the topic might just be one of the most important parts of the lesson.

    If YOU want to "hook" students and "draw them in" to the lesson, you're going to have to use that focus time to your best advantage! To do that successfully, you're going to need the right equipment!

    Here is a novel way to remember the most important features of a good “hook.”

    Becoming a Master Fisher for your students’ attention!

    The Tackle Box

    Your assortment of ideas or tools. Plan to have several types of hooks at the ready. (I keep a small chest near my teaching area with some generic props that I can utilize on the fly and frequently include in my planning.) You will soon be using your tools like a master, but they are only useful if they are readily available to you. Remember, there is always room for more in your tackle box!
    Stay outfitted and prepared!

    The Hook, Line, and Sinker

    Focus Activity that captures and holds student interest. Never forget how powerful the three- to five-minute anticipatory set is to the lesson. “Is this a game?” (“I guessed it right just by listening and inferring!”)
    Never forget the most important tools!

    The Pole

    Effective techniques for grabbing students’ attention that the teacher has practiced and feels comfortable using. Begin by asking yourself, “What types of activity best matches the content you are about to deliver? Storytelling? Game? Inquiry? (Or, a demonstration of the concept such as a pretend phone call?)”
    Use the correct equipment for the job.

    The Bait

    Intrigue used to entice learners to direct their attention to you. YOU know what will do it. Use it to your advantage. “What’s in that old suitcase my teacher is holding?” “Why is part of the picture covered?” or, “Why is my teacher answering her phone just when our class is starting?”
    Know your students.

    The Cork

    Cues the teacher uses during the lesson to know how students are doing with a new concept. Can a reference to the hook help a student’s understanding at a point later in the lesson? Watch your students during the lesson and redirect their thinking with the reel (below) for deeper meaning and stronger retention.
    Pay attention to your students’ understanding.

    The Reel

    Quick reference to hook during lesson is how a teacher keeps students interested when attention declines. Be prepared to refer to the hook when needed. “What did you notice in the picture we saw?” or, “How did you know she was in a car wash?”
    Reel them in occasionally.

    The Fish

    Links meaning and connection of a concept to the real world. Make the most of the “hook” by linking it directly to the concept being taught. Use activity that will bridge familiar with unfamiliar concepts. (A car wash was a block from the school and likely familiar to most of my students.) “When have you ever inferred in your real life?” 
    Connect the hook to the meat of the lesson.

    The Net

    Keep focus activities fresh. It might be easy to plug the same sentence, game, or media clip into that focus box but it will mean less and less to your students over time, becoming ineffective. (“She has never answered her phone during class before! What’s happening?”)
    Don’t overuse one type of activity.

    Catch and Release

    Give ownership of knowledge back to the students. Help them see that they can use the knowledge they’ve gained in the lesson in their own life. “Let’s try our inference skills with this paragraph.” Later: “Look at you! You’re using inferencing to determine the meaning of what you just read!”
    Bring them aboard then help them make meaningful connections for better retention of knowledge.

    The "Fish Story"

    Encourage processing and reflection after the lesson. Allow for time to process by using the hook. “Discuss with your partner what you learned about inference today.” (“Tell your partner how you inferred that my friend was stuck in a car wash.” “What words helped you figure it out?”)
    Give them knowledge to take away.

    How do you "hook" your students and keep them interested?

    My students have just settled in their seats to begin a reading strategy class when my cell phone rings. This is not a normal occurrence but they get quiet just as if there was a knock on the door. I answer the call and start speaking in a quiet voice but as the call continues and my voice gets a little louder, they can’t resist listening in. Their curiosity piques as my voice registers alarm with each question I ask my caller. As they listen quietly, my students naturally begin to try to piece together the circumstances of the caller’s predicament from my end of the conversation. (They are inferring that the caller is stuck in her car in a car wash down the street from the school and it won’t stop to allow her to drive out!) I end the call and turn back to the class. ALL eyes are on me as I start a conversation on inference; an activity they have been directly involved in for the last three minutes. As the lesson progresses, my students or I will refer to the phone call experience several times. They are hooked, hook, line, and sinker!

    Sometimes, teachers are tempted to skip the focus activity out of time pressures or a misunderstanding of its purpose, or they resort to a standard template that they use for every lesson:
    "Yesterday we learned ___________ and today we will learn __________."
    That sentence takes under a minute to say and then we're off to the more important stuff, right?

    But wait!

    Research tells us that our brains seek out novelty and often ignore what they think they've already heard. That three- to five-minute portion of the lesson that focuses students on the topic might just be one of the most important parts of the lesson.

    If YOU want to "hook" students and "draw them in" to the lesson, you're going to have to use that focus time to your best advantage! To do that successfully, you're going to need the right equipment!

    Here is a novel way to remember the most important features of a good “hook.”

    Becoming a Master Fisher for your students’ attention!

    The Tackle Box

    Your assortment of ideas or tools. Plan to have several types of hooks at the ready. (I keep a small chest near my teaching area with some generic props that I can utilize on the fly and frequently include in my planning.) You will soon be using your tools like a master, but they are only useful if they are readily available to you. Remember, there is always room for more in your tackle box!
    Stay outfitted and prepared!

    The Hook, Line, and Sinker

    Focus Activity that captures and holds student interest. Never forget how powerful the three- to five-minute anticipatory set is to the lesson. “Is this a game?” (“I guessed it right just by listening and inferring!”)
    Never forget the most important tools!

    The Pole

    Effective techniques for grabbing students’ attention that the teacher has practiced and feels comfortable using. Begin by asking yourself, “What types of activity best matches the content you are about to deliver? Storytelling? Game? Inquiry? (Or, a demonstration of the concept such as a pretend phone call?)”
    Use the correct equipment for the job.

    The Bait

    Intrigue used to entice learners to direct their attention to you. YOU know what will do it. Use it to your advantage. “What’s in that old suitcase my teacher is holding?” “Why is part of the picture covered?” or, “Why is my teacher answering her phone just when our class is starting?”
    Know your students.

    The Cork

    Cues the teacher uses during the lesson to know how students are doing with a new concept. Can a reference to the hook help a student’s understanding at a point later in the lesson? Watch your students during the lesson and redirect their thinking with the reel (below) for deeper meaning and stronger retention.
    Pay attention to your students’ understanding.

    The Reel

    Quick reference to hook during lesson is how a teacher keeps students interested when attention declines. Be prepared to refer to the hook when needed. “What did you notice in the picture we saw?” or, “How did you know she was in a car wash?”
    Reel them in occasionally.

    The Fish

    Links meaning and connection of a concept to the real world. Make the most of the “hook” by linking it directly to the concept being taught. Use activity that will bridge familiar with unfamiliar concepts. (A car wash was a block from the school and likely familiar to most of my students.) “When have you ever inferred in your real life?” 
    Connect the hook to the meat of the lesson.

    The Net

    Keep focus activities fresh. It might be easy to plug the same sentence, game, or media clip into that focus box but it will mean less and less to your students over time, becoming ineffective. (“She has never answered her phone during class before! What’s happening?”)
    Don’t overuse one type of activity.

    Catch and Release

    Give ownership of knowledge back to the students. Help them see that they can use the knowledge they’ve gained in the lesson in their own life. “Let’s try our inference skills with this paragraph.” Later: “Look at you! You’re using inferencing to determine the meaning of what you just read!”
    Bring them aboard then help them make meaningful connections for better retention of knowledge.

    The "Fish Story"

    Encourage processing and reflection after the lesson. Allow for time to process by using the hook. “Discuss with your partner what you learned about inference today.” (“Tell your partner how you inferred that my friend was stuck in a car wash.” “What words helped you figure it out?”)
    Give them knowledge to take away.

    How do you "hook" your students and keep them interested?

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