How to plan a hook exercise

by Patricia Hipwell October 22, 2018

How to plan a hook exercise

Hooking Students into Learning … in all curriculum areas is a collection of strategies for starting lessons productively. The book offers teachers hundreds of ideas for engaging students from the opening minutes of a lesson. 

The book has many exercises and examples, but they are just examples. To offer students effective hook exercises you will need to follow these steps.

1. Decide on the skill you want to teach

Hooking Students into Learning … in all curriculum areas is broken up into chapters focusing on a particular skill, including reading, researching, vocabulary and more. The tasks in the book are not intended to be sequential so you can start anywhere.

Once you have selected a skill to focus on, you can turn to the relevant chapter and review the activities that help develop this skill. 

2. Select an appropriate activity

To help you decide on a hook exercise, you should read through the rationale and what the teacher and students need to do. There are examples included in the book to help you understand what the activities look like. 

3. Find an appropriate piece of text

This is the essential, but trickiest, part of developing a hook exercise. You should now select subject-specific texts, lists of vocabulary or diagrams that are relevant to the current unit. While it takes more effort to prepare relevant activities, the reward is in the opportunity for students to:

  • move key facts and figures from short-term to long-term memory
  • activate prior knowledge about a topic (where prior knowledge exists)
  • awaken interest in the topic of the lesson
  • check for understanding
  • improve a variety of skills
  • develop learning strategies
  • improve vocabulary
  • develop collaborative learning strategies

 I recommend that schools organise professional development time for teachers to develop subject-specific examples of the skills in action.

4. Introduce the activity to your students

Set students up so they can complete the activity. You should explain the activity to the students and what is required of them. A good way to do this is to say, “I am looking for…” or, “What I expect to see is…”

It may be necessary to pre-empt the activity with some teaching; for example, if the activity requires students to have knowledge of parts of speech, then teaching this is required. Do not assume students know or have remembered the necessary information.

NB: If the activity is unfamiliar to students, it may take them a couple of times to ‘get the hang of it’.

5. Reflect on the activity

It’s a good idea to take a few minutes to assess how the activity went, including any challenges or difficulties students faced, or how you may adapt the activity next time.

 How to plan a hook exercise for the start of lessons

Patricia Hipwell
Patricia Hipwell


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