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Inspiration & Engagement - The Lesson Hook

David Burgess is a pirate teacher. One of the reasons he connects pirates to teaching is the well-known fact that "Pirates have hooks!" David recently shared some great ideas while speaking at the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. One of my takeaways was that I need to remember that even in a learner-centered 1 to 1 classroom, the "hook" is still important!
Anticipatory sets: A brief activity or event at the beginning of the lesson that effectively engages students' attention and focuses their thoughts on the learning objective. (via Google) 
Learning objectives brief statements that describe what students will be expected to learn by the end of school year, course, unit, lesson, project, or class period. (via Google)
My questions today: Is it enough to simply explain to students what they will be doing without convincing them why they should be curious?

Most teachers have had some preservice training in the importance of the "anticipatory set" or "hook" to engage students in a topic or lesson. Teachers also understand the importance of sharing learning objectives with students.  There is a great deal of research that connects successful student learning to students knowing in advance what they are going to learn. 

When I visit classrooms as an instructional coach, I frequently see the learning objectives front and center. Students know what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. This is great and I the students are often immediately able to start thinking about the learning. 

What I don't see as often is a clear "hook". I think many teachers get so focused on making sure the students have an understanding of the objectives for the day that the "hook" get's lost. In the rush to get stuff done, we often focus more on the how than on the why. The lesson hook gets lost or forgotten. 

After watching David Burgess, I rewatched the Unpacking Formative Assessment YouTube video by Dylan Williams. Dylan wonders if a lessons objectives really do much good if the kids are not interested in the questions. He suggests that a good "twist" may be essential to students engaging in the lesson objectives. I could not agree more.

Dylan's video and a deep dive into lesson hooks with my PLN inspired me to start placing a greater emphasis on some "twists" or hooks. I need to make it a priority to some creative hooks in the future to help engage my students in the objectives. 

I am inspired to remember that it is not enough to have great objectives. These do not lead to engagement. Students need to connect to the activity, before they can be inspired to learn and explore. A good lesson hook can help engage students. Here are a few of my ideas to hook my students: 

Hook #1

Get my students talking about what they know using an online assessment tool like Kahoot or Quizlet Live to connect students to the content or concepts of the day. I've seen some incredible formative assessments that use quotes connected to the learning objectives. 

Hook #2
Start with a short video from YouTube or TEDEd that connects to the learning objectives in a unique way. I'm not talking about a video that just explains the content. I am looking for a video that makes the students think about how the video connects to the objectives.

Hook #3
Explore an interactive website. For example, use's Logo Quiz to connect students to a lesson focused on consumption, advertising, or . . . . ?

Hook #4
Find something visual to get the students thinking. For example, Use the Thrillist post about Abandoned Places in the Midwest to connect students to a research project, succession, or . . . ?

Hook #5
Use a digital tool like Remind,  Padlet, or Google Classroom to ask the students a thought-provoking question the night before to get the thinking started. David Burgess calls this "preheating the grill!"

How do you hook students to encourage engagement? Please share your thoughts and ideas  below!

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