How to Help Learners Frame Their Thinking

The purpose of a “hook” is to help learners frame their thinking and focus on the concept at hand. Below you will find some hooks that you can use with your learners to help them frame their learning.

Challenge: Offer learners a very challenging task and let them try to solve it. An example would be when an educator asked learners what a complete sentence was. The educator gave the learners five words to use for making a complete sentence. The learners couldn’t make a sentence. So, the educator asked the class what was absent? The answer was a missing subject. This awe of the unsolvable riddle hooked the learners for the remaining hour of the class.

Gallery Walk: Using images or objects, learners move from station to station, making observations. The goal is for learners to come to a conclusion about the objects/images that is related to a particular concept.

Show & Tell: Use a prop from a story learners are about to read.  Use a plant, leaf, water, etc., in science; an abacus in math; a prop in history.

Status: Describe something great: Use outstanding work by a learner, or give reasons a famous author is highly regarded.  Have learners close their eyes as you describe an event from history, show learners a great work of art, etc.

Survey: Survey your learners by asking questions and having them step to a side or corner of the room that represents their response.

Prediction: Present a scenario and have learners make a prediction.

Stumped: Develop a scenario where someone is stumped, and the learners must figure out a solution independently or in groups.

Song: Play a song as the learners enter the room. Leave it on during the warm-up. Ask learners how the song might be related to a related concept. Ask them to share their ideas before you explain your purpose for doing it.

Experiment: Do an experiment that demonstrates a concept. For instance, use water to fill 3D containers to illustrate volume or help learners make a recipe using benchmark measurements.

Vocabulary connections: Give learners a group of words related to the lesson, and have them guess the topic or discover the word that doesn’t fit in the group.

News: Bring in an article or online news story that addresses your learners’ area of interest or importance.

Skit/Dress-Up: Give learners roles and have them act out a skit. You can come in dressed for a role.

Ask a Question: Description. To get your learners engaged in an upcoming lesson, ask them a question that will interest them and activate prior knowledge. Example. Ask learners to recall their favorite movie or favorite story from earlier in the year. Ask learners to recall who the story is mostly about and use this as an opening to introduce the main character.

Use a trade book: Description. Using a trade book or magazine at the beginning of the lesson can effectively motivate learners and spark interest. Math instruction, reading comprehension, writing traits, science, and even social studies can all be introduced using this strategy

Play a game: Description: The anticipatory set can be used to connect new learning to what learners have learned already. Playing a quick game to recall prior knowledge can be an effective strategy for getting learners engaged in the lesson and prepared to build off prior knowledge.

Tell a story: Description. To spotlight a concept, an educator can tell a story related to the concept. Example. For instance, to demonstrate the skill of sequencing, an educator can give a funny example of their day out of order and ask learners to reorder the story in the correct order.

Use a visual: Description. Educators can use visual aids to encourage learners to better connect to new concepts. Example. A educator could tell learners that they have thirty seconds to remember everything they can about a painting. After thirty seconds, the educator will remove the painting and ask learners to recall all they can about the painting. The educator will solicit ideas and use this to introduce distinguishing between main ideas and supporting details.

Use manipulatives or models: Description. Educators can use physical models to prepare learners to learn a specific concept or highlight the critical attributes of new concepts. Examples. To teach geometry, the educator could use various models of two or three-dimensional shapes.

Writing Prompt: Description. Ask learners to write everything they know about a future learning objective or give them a prompt related to the learning goal. Example. Before teaching learners about area and perimeter, provide them with a writing prompt about remodeling their room, including re-wallpapering a wall and replacing the trim around the carpet.

Graphic Organizer: Description. An educator could ask learners to use a graphic organizer to generate thoughts related to the learning goal to prepare learners for the lesson. Examples. The educator could ask learners to write statements that they are confident about and those they are not confident about, recording their statements in a T-Cart, before engaging in a lesson on fact and opinion.

Make a prediction: Description. Learners have real-life context around skills they are required to learn in elementary school. Using their real-life knowledge and asking them to make predictions using an effective strategy to build new knowledge. Example. Before teaching a lesson on measurement, have learners make predictions about the size of objects that are familiar to them.

Tell a joke: Description. Using laughter as a way to engage your learners. Telling an initial joke & then probing learners or explaining to learners why the joke is funny can be a fun way to start a lesson

Use a song or video clip: Description. There are a variety of songs and video clips available for use in the classroom. Using songs can be an effective way of drawing your learners into classroom content

Brainstorm: Description. Your learners possess a great deal of contextual knowledge around various topics about classroom content. Tapping into this before teaching a new concept can be an effective method of introducing new learning objectives Example. Before introducing a science lesson on recycling, ask learners to brainstorm what could happen to things that they don’t recycle.

Give a scenario: Description. To spotlight the major learning of a particular lesson, give learners a scenario, which asks them to draw conclusions about the major learning objective. Example. Before teaching learners to make inferences or draw conclusions, the educator could present learners with this scenario: “A man walks out of a bank with a black ski mask on” The educator would then prompt learners to think through some possible conclusions.

Present a challenge/riddle: Description. Before introducing a new concept, give learners a challenge or problem to solve. Using inquiry can engage learners and motivate them to learn. Example. Before teaching multiplication, give learners a real-life example that would be time-consuming to solve using repeated addition.

Act it out: Description. Ask your learners to act out something to highlight a learning objective. Example. To teach learners to classify living organisms as vertebrates or invertebrates, give several learners an organism to act out. After the learners guess the organism, write the organism on the board, listing vertebrates in one column and invertebrates in the second one. Use this to prompt a discussion about the differences between the two groups.

Scavenger Hunt: Description. Provide the learner with clues about the learning objective they will be taking on for the day.

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