Hooking Students into Learning
Review by Chris Thompson, Book Reviews Editor
First published in Opinion, the journal of the South Australian English Teachers Association
While the title indicates that this resource is relevant across all curriculum areas, English teachers and literacy leaders across primary and secondary contexts will find the contents invaluable. In the introduction, the author explains that while the strategies provide entry points, warm-ups, ‘hooks’ for engaging students from Year 4 upwards in learning at the beginnings of lessons, some activities can also be used at the ends of lessons to consolidate intended learning. The activities are short, non-sequential, approximately 5-10 minutes’ duration, and teachers can choose from almost 300 strategies which may be used in any order. The author also stresses that skills development relies on relevant subject-specific content currently being covered in context of use. Purposes of the strategies may cover:
- moving key information from short-term to long-term memory
- activating prior knowledge about a topic
- creating interest in the lesson topic
- checking for understanding
- improving a range of skills
- developing learning strategies
- improving vocabulary, especially in curriculum areas
- developing collaborative learning strategies.
Many of the activities support students to increase the amounts of reading and writing which they must do as they progress through the years of schooling. A suggested, pedagogically sound process is outlined for how to use any strategy drawn from the book.
The contents are logically organised into clearly labelled, colour-coded sections and sub-sections. Main categories include:
- Reading (divided into before, during, after and extras)
- Vocabulary development (largest section)
- Research, summarising and note-making
- Editing and proofreading
- Glossary and resources.
Each section has a brief rationale /introduction e.g. the first section ‘Reading’ mentions that not every text is read in the same way. In fact, there are four ways of reading a text or screen, which require different skills – skimming, scanning, close reading and continuous reading. For each strategy, there is a rationale which briefly describes evidence-based pedagogy, followed by a list of numbered of steps addressed to the teacher, which is in turn followed by a set of steps to be followed by the students. An illustrative example in words or diagram is provided in many cases.
This is an invaluable, comprehensive, wonderful literacy resource which represents excellent value for money for a site or a faculty area within a site. English teachers will be addressing elements of the Language and Literacy strands of the Australian Curriculum and the Literacy General Capability when they use any of these strategies purposefully.
Note that the author has previously published the very successful How to write what you want to sayseries, which many schools provide/use as whole class texts. More information about how to purchase this excellent resource and other publications is available on her website at https://www.logonliteracy.com.au/