Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hook, Line, and Thinker!

As the school year pulls to an end and the "natives become increasingly restless", we are often scratching our heads, wondering "Why won't my class just stop talking and pay attention? They have already checked out." You can bet, once the STAAR test is over, "checked out" will be a minor term, right? matter the grade level!  Every year we are reminded of the importance of continuing to teach to the very end. Don't move into a relaxed schedule too soon, because this is often the very cause of students taking free reign of the classroom.  A simple way to help our  teaching remain strong to the very end , and therefore hold the attention of our students, is to "hook 'em" ( that means fish hook, you Longhorns out there!) and then " close 'em". Let me explain.

Hook 'em?

We had a power burst session, earlier in the year at our campus, on the importance of using a good hook at the beginning of a lesson.  A hook can be as simple as a powerful question that gets the students thinking or as involved as a short " one man" skit!  An interesting piece of realia, a song, short video, or even an unexpected piece of clothing or  accessory worn by the teacher are all examples of powerful lesson hooks.  The point is, we want to use a hook as a way of pulling the students in, helping them to frame their thinking and focus on the information at hand.  Engagement!  Once you grab their attention in this way, it's hard for them to let go, if they are hooked!

Close 'em?

The closure is just as important as the hook.  Our closure is the activity that ends a lesson and creates a lasting impression.   I might add that it is best if the students do most of the intellectual work here, NOT the teacher.  Thus, a closing is seen as the "thinker".  The cool thing about a good closure is it doesn't have to be boring!  You might want to check out these  great closure activities , especially when you are feeling the end of year chaos:

An added bonus of keeping your hooks and closings strong is your principal will be really happy as well since these are also two components of a powerful lesson cycle!

So in closing  , keep your students engaged ( and your classroom under control) as long as you can this spring by catching their attention.......
Hook, Line, and Thinker!

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