I’m fairly convinced that my favourite lesson of any project is the hook lesson. It’s where I get to do something completely random with my students, under the pretext of introducing our new project focus. The idea of a hook lesson is to hint at the focus for the project through a fun and engaging activity. Of course, some hook lessons are more successful at engaging students than others, and that’s what I want to share with you now.
The new project I’m running with year 10 is about narrative writing. I’ve decided to skew the focus a bit to concentrate on narrative memoir… is that a term? I don’t know. I’ll just pretend it is. What I mean is, the students’ narratives will be loosely based on the life story of a loved one. I think this will make it easier for them to focus on the act of writing, than trying to imagine a scenario where ‘change’ occurs – see, the concept we’re looking at is change.
I actually came up with this hook lesson in my lunch break before class – typical! I didn’t know if it would work, but luckily it did. OK, so here’s what I did. I gave every student two strips of paper – enough to write a short paragraph on. I then explained the activity to them: they needed to choose a partner, and they were to sit across from them on the floor and write two descriptions of that person. The first description was imagining that person when he/she was five years old. The second description was imagining that same person when he/she is 65 years old. The descriptions were to be approximately 100 words, they could not mention the name of the person being described (they were allowed to use gender-specific pronouns), and they were not to put their own name on it.
I took my class out into the hallway outside of the classroom, and they sat facing each other. I gave them about twenty minutes to complete the two descriptions. When they were finished they had to post their two pieces of paper to the whiteboard using blutak – in different spots – and then sit back at their chair. When the whole class was back inside, I chose three descriptions and read them out (in an exaggerated way, of course, lol) and the class tried to guess who was being described. They loved this! Next, I invited them all up to grab one description at random (not their own), and then each student had to read it quietly and try to guess who it was describing. We went around the class and each students read out the first two lines and said who they thought it was being described. Often we they needed the assistance of the writer, but not always. It was pretty hilarious! By the end of the lesson everyone got their two descriptions, and everyone was laughing.
I loved this lesson, and so did my students. I think they’ll want to do it again. I told me son about the lesson, and he asked if we could do it with his class. That’s a win, surely? Below are some of the descriptions that my students wrote – sorry about the handwriting! ;)