How many of you have found yourself in this situation: it is Saturday night and you are watching TV. All of a sudden, this intriguing movie trailer comes scrolling across your screen. It is a teaser about this amazing movie coming out this summer. You are captivated and memorized. You have to find out as much as you can about this movie that has captured your attention. You are hooked, line and sinker. You will be buying tickets online to see that movie as soon as they are available. Effective classroom hooks are the same in regards to exciting movie trailers. A great hook gives students a preview of what an amazing lesson is getting ready to be taught and learned. It can make the difference between the best lesson ever and the worst.
Student engagement during lessons is an area in education that teachers are battling on a daily basis. Dorit Sasson, author of “7 Ways to Start a Great Lesson”, emphasizes that “the most important part of the lesson occurs during the first five minutes.” What is the trick to engaging students? According to “Shooting for Success! Madeline Hunter Lesson Cycle”, written by the creator of the “anticipatory set” or “hook”, “the hook should excite students about the subject matter.” Hook activities are short introductions at the beginning of a lesson or even a project. A hook can be a song, rap, dance, game, acting skit, art activity or even a technology-integrated activity that is directly related to the lesson’s topic. Ms. Hunter also states that the hook should “grab the students not focused upon learning. By having an activity related to what will be learned, it shifts their attention to the learning process. Anticipatory set can also establish a readiness or anticipation for what is to follow. For the “hook” to do so, it must pique students’ interest. Otherwise it might do the opposite and turn students off to the topic.”
I have talked about what hooks are and what purpose they serve during a lesson. Now let’s talk about the benefits of hooks. Hooks provide engagement, excitement and a gateway into the lesson’s objective that can prepare and motivate students to learn the content being taught. Students can focus on creating more productive work and hooks make the learning environment fun right from the start. These activities can tap into the multiple intelligence approach to learning simply by allowing teachers to be creative with the type of hooks used to kick off the lesson. For example, in Using Hook Stations to Engage Students in a Lesson, Hillary Mills, a 7th grade Science-Geology teacher, uses hook stations to kick off her geology/biology lesson. The stations are set up just like small group learning stations but incorporated at the beginning of the lesson. Each of the stations incorporates different hands on activities, with the students acting as geologists studying fossils in each case.
Before I became the Voki Content Development Manager at Oddcast, I was a classroom teacher for twenty years with a Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University. When I reflect on the years I taught in the classroom, the lessons that resulted in the best student engagement were always the ones that kicked off with an awesome hook. I would always use different style hooks that would touch on the variety of learning styles in my class to meet all of their learning needs. Of course I was passionate about integrating technology as much as possible into my lessons! I really wish I had the opportunity to use Voki Speaking Characters as hooks when I taught. It would have been one of the top software integration tools incorporated into my lessons. I truly believe Voki Hooks capture and engage the 21st Century learner. There are a variety of ways to use these speaking characters and Voki Hooks are just one way. The Voki Hook activities guided by the Voki speaking characters provide top level engagement at the beginning of lessons. There are over 250 speaking characters to choose from and some fit perfectly into themed units of study. There are also hooks created to celebrate special days of the year like Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and National Pencil Day! Here are some examples of exemplary Voki Hooks—feel free to incorporate them into your classroom lessons:
March Madness Multiplication
Tell a Fairy Tale Day
Phases of the Moon
Voki also has a product called Voki Teach. Voki Teach is a library of Common-Core aligned lessons, hooks, and tech project activities in the areas of ELA, Math, and Social Studies. Science and Foreign Languages are coming soon. Learn more here: http://www.voki.com/teach/home
Christina Bazemore is the Content Development Manager at Oddcast. She was an elementary, high school, technology lab teacher and soccer coach for twenty years. She received her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southern University and her Master’s Degree in Integrating Technology in the K-12 Classroom from Walden University. She is fulfilling her lifelong dream of working and living in New York City. She has one son, Andy and a dog named Shadow! Christina is a big Georgia Bulldog football fan!