Grade: Middle
Subject: Language

#3972. Creating the Hook (A Writing Mini-Lesson)

Language, level: Middle
Posted Sat Apr 28 09:24:31 PDT 2007 by Terry Walker (
University of Idaho, Coeur d' Alene, ID
Materials Required: Books, pencil, group worksheet
Activity Time: 45 minutes total
Concepts Taught: Gaining the reader's attention when writing

Grade Level: Fourth Grade

Time for Lesson: Approximately 45 minutes

Books that have good opening lines -- I have chosen the following Roald Dahl books for this lesson (The books will have a cover on them so that they will not be easily identified. The teacher will reveal the titles after the lesson is over in case students show a desire to read the entire book. A number can be placed on the book covering to identify the book without removing its cover.)
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
3. James and the Giant Peach
4. The BFG
5. Matilda
6. Boy -- Tales of Childhood
7. The Twits
8. The Witches
9. Fantastic Mr. Fox
10. George's Marvelous Medicine
11. Danny the Champion of the World
12. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (this book has seven stories)
12a. The Boy Who Talked with Animals
12b. The Hitchhiker
12c. The Mildenhall Treasure
12d. The Swan
12e. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
12f. Lucky Break: How I Became a Writer
12g. A Piece of Cake: First Story-1942

Group Worksheet
Sticky Notes (Placed in the books prior to handing them out)
White board or chalk board and marker or chalk

Objectives and Purpose:
TSWBAT write their story using precise word choice to captivate the appropriate audience.

(This mini-lesson should be taught after the students know what topic they will be writing about and have organized their ideas in a graphic organizer of some kind)

Anticipatory Set: ~7 minutes (To save time -- the teacher may just tell the students these points)
The teacher will ask the students why we read.
The answers might range from to receive knowledge to for enjoyment etc.

The teacher will ask the students why we write.
The answers might range from to inform, to persuade, for enjoyment etc.

The teacher will ask the students how we can get our audience to want to read what we write.
The answer should be with thoughtful word choices.

Teaching/Presentation: ~15 minutes
The teacher will read the opening sentence of a book that has an opener intended to hook the reader into the book.

The teacher will ask the students if the sentence is one that would grab their interest and make them want to continue reading. Discussion will follow.

The teacher will divide the class into six groups and distribute two books per group.

The teacher will ask for two representatives per group. One representative will read the passage from each book to their group and later to the class. The other will take notes on the group's discussion to present to the class.

The students will be directed to read the first passage in the book -- up until the pre-placed sticky note, which is just after the hook -- then they will discuss reasons why that passage would get their attention and make them want to read the book.

The student who is recording the information will do so on the attached worksheet.

After sufficient time, the students will present their discussions.

Modeling/Guided Practice: ~3 minutes
The teacher will write the following sentences on the board.
"During spring break, I went to the zoo and saw a lot of animals."
"Animals, animals everywhere. That is what it was like over spring break when I visited the zoo."
"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Lions and tigers and bears, but where? I saw them at the zoo, and you can see them too."

The students will vote (or thumbs up/down) on which opener would get their attention and make them want to read more of the story. (Serves as checking for understanding)

The teacher will tie in the significance of the mini-lesson with their writing assignment and creating the "hook" in the stories that the students are writing (discussion)

Independent Practice: ~17 minutes
The students will begin writing. They will use an appropriate "hook" to gain their reader's attention. (Can be used for any writing assignment - students should already have brainstormed on what they will write about and organized into graphic organizer of their choice)

Closure: ~3 minutes
The teacher allows those who wish to read their opening sentence to read them.

The class discusses why opening sentences are important to getting the reader's attention so that they continue reading.

The teacher collects the stories or has the students drop them into the collection basket. (Used for assessment)

The teachers uses the book number written on the group recording sheet (below) to identify the books each group chose as the book they would like to read based on the opening hook.

Group Recording Sheet

Table Group________

Which book did you select (number is on the front, in the bottom left corner)?_______

Write Down a quote from the book that the group agreed was the best quote.

List three reasons why your group thought this book has a good opener?