PME 811: Blog Post #6 – Exciting Classroom Hooks

Welcome to my 6th blog post for PME 811!

For this post I am going to be focusing on lesson “hooks” that are designed to get students interested and engaged in a lesson right from the beginning. But, before we get right into that, let’s take a look again at my big umbrella question for this course:

What substantial innovations have been made in chemistry classrooms over the last 5 years in terms of teaching and assessment strategies and how can they help to improve my lessons?

When I analyze my own performance as a teacher I think that I can still work on the first 5-10 minutes of each class. This is an area I would still like to improve with the goal of getting students more interested and motivated to learn more about a particular concept or idea.

A traditional ‘hook’ that has been used in chemistry classrooms has been the ‘teacher-led demo’. This usually consists of the teacher showing an interesting reaction and getting students to make observations. Ideally, the reaction of interest is also directly relevant to the learning goals for that particular lesson. But, this always isn’t the case. Sometimes demo reactions are just cool and exciting to watch and are loosely related to the concept being studied. I am not denying the fact that demos can be effective hooks, but too much redundancy can deter student motivation and engagement. This leads to today’s topic of discussion:

What are some of the best modern ‘hooks’ for chemistry teachers to try at the start of a lesson?

The first thing I realized is that there are no shortage of ideas out there for teachers to try out.

One of the most interesting hook ideas that I stumbled upon was shaping hooks around special occasions or holiday seasons in the calendar. This article entitled “Hooks to ignite the imagination” had a few ideas that I could add to some of my units. Personally, I liked the idea of the ‘Chemistree’ the best. I am part of a grade nine integrated science PLC with 6 other science teachers. We complete a class where students have to learn the names of different items used in the laboratory. We could share the tree with the class and task students with identifying every ‘branch’ by the end of the period. This could work really well at this grade level.

Another interesting resource that I found while researching for hook ideas is called Class Hook. What this website does is that it connects the educational concept that you are discussing with mainstream video clips. I tested this resource by searching for a related to the chemistry concept “chirality”. This is a concept that we will be discussing shortly in my IB Higher Level Chemistry class. The top hit on the search was a clip from Breaking Bad where the exact term is discussed in detail. Since students are right up to date with TV shows they can draw practical connections with the concept right at the start of the period.  

Under the title of each video clip this website also summarizes the general connections to educational concepts. Some of the videos can be used in multiple courses of study. Fortunately, this resource isn’t only applicable to science classes. You can search for pretty much anything.

Another interesting idea that I might consider is a strategy called “Picture Association – Guess the Topic.” I read about it on this ELT Planning website that summarizes 35 different hook ideas for teachers. It’s easy to do, yet, interesting.

Simply find a bunch of pictures that relate to a single concept and make a collage on a google slide. Once class starts ask your students to guess what the connection is between the photos. It can become a fun guessing game if you don’t make it overly obvious.

According to what I have learnt through the creation of this blog post, chemistry teachers shouldn’t only rely on reaction demos at the start of class. There are plenty of other ideas. Effective hooks to bolster student engagement can involve pictures, videos, games, themes and challenges.

I am looking forward to finding out whether anyone else has some cool hooks that you have tried out? Please share in the comment section.

I would love to have more ideas to integrate into my unit plans. Thanks for reading.

References

Educational Clips from Popular Media. Retrieved from https://www.classhook.com/

Hooks to ignite the imagination. (2017, December 08). Retrieved from https://educationblog.oup.com/secondary/science/hooks-to-ignite-the-imagination

35 ways to introduce your lesson topic. (2018, June 10). Retrieved from https://eltplanning.com/2015/06/22/35-ways-to-introduce-your-lesson-topic/

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Magda Helena says:

    Hi Josh,

    I really liked the “Class Hook” resource you provided! I’m excited to share this with my colleagues and check it out myself. I was looking for some hook ideas and low and behold the ones I wanted to share were the ones you provided us with! 🙂

    Scholastic had some neat ideas but again, the class hook website seems FAR more exciting!

    https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/shari-edwards/2017/Activate-Student-Interest-Quickly-and-Effectively/

    Great post!
    Magda

    Like

    1. jcmasterscom says:

      Hi Magda,

      First of all, I would like to thank you for posting on my blog. I took a look at the Scholastic ones as well. There are some ideas I might consider there as well.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Cheers

      Josh

      Like

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