VoicED #4: Hooks for Science and Maths lessons

Hooks for Science and Maths lessons

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When students returned to the classroom following lockdown, many teachers reported that students were struggling to settle back into their lessons and focus on their work. Many schools were concerned that this, coupled with potential post-lockdown anxiety, could negatively impact a student’s school experience and their attainment. While it has been a couple of months since the start of term, getting students to settle down is still being reported as a problem by a lot of teachers. A good lesson hook, particularly one with a real-world application, can help focus students’ minds and rekindle their curiosity.

Lesson hooks are a common way to grab students’ attention at the start of a lesson, and there are a variety of styles to choose from. It can get students to think about what they learned in previous lessons, link to the current topic and inspire curiosity. However, in an interview with Tes, Stella Jones stressed the importance of considering your students’ prior knowledge and experiences for a hook to be effective, and to avoid them falling flat or making students feel excluded. She stresses that hooks don’t need to be gimmicky to be effective, and there are a few different styles of lesson hooks that you could start to use in class to help students settle back into their routine, and remind them of what they enjoy about your subject.

Hooks can be excellent tools for reactivating knowledge from previous lessons. Quick-fire quizzes like retrieval roulette can help engage students as they arrive at the lesson, and can be done to quickly settle the class as they file in. Similarly, using images or videos, or setting up an experiment for students to watch can be a quick way to encourage students to focus. In particular, hooks with a real-world relevance are the most likely to maximise motivation, especially if it relates to the students’ life and experiences. Asking students to read a recent news article linked to the topic you want to teach (such as climate change) or asking an open-ended question to the class can be a great way to get students to think about more nuanced concepts, or facilitate whole-class discussion. It can also help link their lessons to the world around them, and  encourage them to draw on what they’ve learned in other lessons or outside of school.

Using hooks in your classroom can be an excellent way to reinvigorate your students and help them re-engage with your subject. Through careful consideration of their experiences, background, and prior knowledge, you can create hooks that help them draw on what they learned over lockdown, but also remind them that there’s nothing quite like being back in the classroom.

You might also like…

  • Long read: The DfE has released guidance for teaching maths at KS3. How might this change how you teach? Let us know at @OUPSecondary on Twitter!
  • Starter questions: TessMaths has collated hundreds of starter questions for a maths lesson. Use these to get your students thinking from the moment they arrive!
  • Retrieval roulette: Want to make your own retrieval roulette? Adam Boxer has some great advice on how to use retrieval roulette, and has collected retrieval roulettes for almost any subject!
  • More ideas: Want to explore more hook ideas? Ann Lewis and Aleta Thompson have compiled a great list of different types of hooks for your lessons.

And finally… How do animals get their stripes? This video by MinuteEarth shows us what maths can tell us about the natural world!

You may also be interested in:

  • Read the previous issue of VoicED #3 here
  • Read the latest blogs from Oxford Secondary Education here
  • Read the latest blogs from Oxford Primary Education here
  • Read the latest blogs from Oxford Home here