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Building a Better Hook

April 9, 2018

To me, hooks are an idea, not the limited set of examples set forth on the pages within this site. Therefore, every hook can be edited, adjusted, reworked and added upon to fit the needs of the classroom.


So how do you know if a hook is any good? The answer lies in the result. Did the hook create genuine thought and reflection amongst your students? Were mathematical conversations created? Did your instruction begin with some student ideas (right or wrong) about the concept at hand? If the answer is yes, it's working. 


Of course, confusion is a razor sharp line. In creating each hook, I attempted to make them as non-verbal as possible. However, this minimalist urge has meant that on a few occasions I've edited the problem on the fly. For instance, this is the original form of my hook for solving systems of equations using substitution.



When I presented this to my class, they read the first two lines as a single equation in the process of being simplified, which given their place in their algebraic understanding was a completely reasonable deduction. So I added the statement below and order was restored.


Confusion is certainly an element of every hook. Students are being presented a new mathematical concept cold turkey so there's bound to be plenty of questions. However, if the confusion is in the presentation and it's standing in the way of mathematical ideas, then changes should be made. The ideal changes will keep the visual element of the hook in place, prohibiting any verbal limitations from hindering your students entryway to the problem, while also maintaining the level of challenge your students require.


All of this is simply to say, give a hook a try! Flip it an reverse it. Do whatever it is you need to make it work for you, your students and your classroom. That's what it's for. And let me know how works. I'd love to share users' experiences, creations and ideas on my Guest Hook page to make my hooks and yours work better for our students.



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