The hook isn’t just the attention getter at the beginning of an essay. Get your students interested in the type of essay by playing an activity before you teach. The hook can be used in many areas of life. It is used at the beginning of a movie, play, commercial, or when Billy Bob is telling a story. Here are some techniques to hook your students.
For an opinion essay, you can play the “Would You Rather” game. This shows how students have the same and different opinions. Stress that it’s okay to think differently because we are different people. Our differences doesn’t mean we can’t be friends anymore, it just shows us different point of views. And our differences make us unique. Sprinkle the word “opinion” throughout the activity so students connect the activity to the essay. Also, you can refer back to the game later if the opportunity arises while teaching.
For a persuasive essay, you can use a role-play activity to model a weak and strong way to persuade someone. I usually choose a topic that is persuading a parent since most kids can relate to trying to persuade his or her parent. As much as I like to pull sticks to keep the students I choose random, I select fluent readers for this activity. Then once the skit is over, we compare the two. Another activity is to write a persuasive letter. You can tie your letter prompt into a real life issue. You can use a letter to persuade administration for new playground equipment, a parent for more allowance, or a teacher for less homework. There are so many ways to bring a persuasive letter to life!
For an argumentative essay, use role-play in the same way. Instead of persuading the reader, you are stating a claim using the strongest evidence. Once the thesis has been written, there are writing activities such as “Writing a Strong ‘Hook’” and “Writing a Strong ‘Knockout’” to help your writers think of ideas to grab the reader’s attention and leave the reader with a claim they won’t forget. The most compelling conclusions tie into the hook.
For a narrative, informative, or expository essay, you can have students read a boring and then an interesting hook. This will enable them to hear the difference between writing that is mediocre and one that paints a picture. I like to compare the hook of an essay to the beginning of a book. Many times we put books down because it didn’t keep our interest. It’s just as important in our essays to begin with a strategy that will keep the reader reading.
As teachers, we want to try to get our students to enjoy writing. It can be hard! Below are my scaffolded guides to help you to grab your students’ attention in the classroom. They have more helpful strategies to teach your students to become skilled writers.
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