Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hook ' Yer Reader, Matey! Yargh!

While I am still stressing over deciding how I'm going to have my students plan their compositions this year, I know that the next step in the writing process will be teaching them how to HOOK the reader with a fabulous lead. This has always been one of my favorite lessons of the year because you can totally play up the "hook" theme, and the fourth graders really impress me with how talented they are at crafting their own leads. Two years ago, I dressed up as a fisherman (tackle-clad hat, fishing pole, weird vest, etc.) Then came the disastrous follow-up activity where I taught FIVE ways to hook the reader at once, and each student wrote all five of their leads on different a fish die-cut. I then felt compelled to tie ALL the fish die-cuts together with fishing line and hang them from the ceiling, where you probably couldn't even read them. Did I mention I had about 70 students? I ended up laughing at myself so hard. (You have to laugh, or you'll cry.)

Last year was better. I dressed as Captain Hook and taught THREE ways to hook the reader. This was a lot less daunting to start with, and I didn't kid myself with the mess of 350 ceiling fish. Once the kids got past my distracting eye patch and on-again-off-again pirate accent, they listened to me read many catchy leads from different mentor texts. It was a mini-lesson if there ever was one. We'd only read the first couple sentences of each book, discuss why and how it "hooked" us, and then move onto the next. If you're looking to find fiction books that have great leads, Roald Dahl, Cynthia Rylant, and Judy Blume books are always a hit. I also just found a new favorite while browsing through Half Price Books:


(Eileen Spinelli is also the author of The Best Story, my favorite mentor text to teach the trait of voice!) This year, with the addition of my borderline creepy Captain Hook getup and collection of mentor texts, I'll have a new follow-up activity I've created (below) where students can read more author examples and write their own hooks in three different ways. After that, I'll have them choose their favorite hook to begin their next composition with. We'll definitely keep these in our writing folders for reference throughout the year. I got the idea of representing each hook method with a different punctuation mark from a district training, and I found the awesome pirate-y font at dafont.com, my favorite website for free fonts. I also wanted to teach three ways to hook the reader that would work for both narrative and expository writing to make things less confusing for my fourth graders, so I went with the three you'll see on the PDF...




I'm interested to know how other teachers introduce leads or if there are any must-have mentor texts out there that I'm unaware of, so please feel free to comment! I will end this post with my favorite pirate joke:

Q: "What's a pirate's favorite fast food restaurant?"
A: "AAARRRRRby's!" 

You know you're laughing!

- Sarah

38 comments:

  1. Such awesome ideas, Sarah! I LOVE reading about what you do with your kiddos!!

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  2. Hi,
    I am your newest follower. I found your blog through the Newbie Blog Hop. I'm glad you joined since I am always looking for ideas about writing. I'd love for you to visit back and check out my blog.
    Amy
    Adventures In Teaching

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I started following your blog as well!

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  3. I love your blog! Everything is so much fun! I gave you a couple of awards! Head on over to my blog and check them out! Then help me out and follow me! :)

    Brianne

    From Behind the Lavender Door

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    1. Wow! Thanks, Brianne! I just received those awards (lol), but I'm very flattered to have been nominated again. :) I started following your blog... can't wait to start swapping ideas!

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  4. I just nominated you for an award! Come on by and pick it up:)

    Kelly
    Kelly Teach

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    1. Hey Kelly! I just got the Versatile Blogger Award, but thank you so much! : )

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  5. Love your writing resource. I teach 3rd grade. Stop on by my way.


    Yearn to Learn Blog

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad to have found another dog lover and writing teacher! I started following you. :)

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  6. I am your newest follower! Thank you for the freebie!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! Glad you like it... I'll keep 'em coming!

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  7. I found you through this linky and am your newest follower. I am also teaching fourth grade this year. I would love for you to stop by my blog sometime.:)
    Kristin
    iTeach 1:1

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    1. Awesome! I started following you, too. :)

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  8. Stopping by from the blog hop! I taught 4th grade for the last four years and now moving up to 5th. Excited to follow your blog!

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    1. Thanks! I started following you, too. I love your subway art!

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  9. Always excited to find another fourth grade blog. Now I need to go back and review all your great writing stuff. Thanks for sharing and linking up with the blog hop so I could find you.

    Heather
    room 4 imagination

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  10. Love the colors of your blog! Just found you through the blog hop (which I'm going to have to link up with now since I just started blogging in June) and am your newest follower!

    Amanda
    Teaching Maddeness
    Come join my 500 Follower Giveaway that ends tomorrow!

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    1. Thanks... yellow is my favorite color! I'm a fan/follower of your blog as well!

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  11. I am loving your writing ideas. Where did you get the precious clip art of the children holding the pencils?

    It is so wonderful to find other teachers who see writing as a craft. It seems like a lot of teachers no longer teach the children mini-lessons or have a writing workshop approach of taking the children through the writing process once they are no longer in the K-2 grades.

    I am happy to be your newest follower. I would love for you to hop over and visit me when you get the chance. =)


    Heather
    Heather's Heart

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    1. Thank you for the compliment! I can't remember where I found the pencil kids, but it was probably from www.clker.com or one of those royalty-free clip art sites. I just became one of your (many) followers, and I love your blog! I can't wait to swap more ideas with you! :)

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    2. Correction: I got my graphics from www.mycutegraphics.com!

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  12. I love how you dressed up as Hook! I'd bet that the kids will never forget it! By the way, I am a follower from the hop! Best wishes on your new blog!
    TIPS: Teach, Inspire, and Prepare Students

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  13. It is great connecting with you through the blog hop! Can't wait to explore your blog!!

    Patti
    One Class, One Sound

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  14. I just found your blog and I must say I LOVE the design. Yellow & gray is one of my favorite color combos!! I have a two good friends that are moving from 1st to 4th this year - yikes! and I sent them your way so they can read your great ideas :)

    Susan
    T.G.I.F. (Thank God it's First Grade!)

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    1. Yay! Thank you for referring your friends to my blog. :) I'm sure they will love 4th grade... they say it's easier to go "up" than "down."

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  15. Found you via the Newbie Blog Hop! I was intrigued because I'm looking to improve how I teach writing next year. I am SO glad I found you because just this entry alone is epic!! I *LOVE*!

    I am definitely your newest follower!

    Cindy
    Teach With All the Colors of the Wind

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    1. Aww... thank you! I will try to keep it real. ;) I started following you, too!

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  16. I'm your newest follower. I love your blog. You have some great ideas!

    Jenny
    Teaching Third

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  17. I love your "hook" idea! I am giving you the One Lovely Blog Award! Stop by to pick it up!

    Mrs. T
    Teaching Mrs.T

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  18. I just found your blog! It is great to follow another fellow 4th grade teacher!!! :)

    Jessica
    Fabulous and Fun 4th Graders

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  19. Hi Jessica:) I really enjoyed hoppin' around your blog. I just nominated you for the "One Lovely Blog" award so come on by to pick it up. I am trying to become one of your newest followers but Google is doing something weird tonight, it won't let me join anyone's blog! I promise I will come back by and join up with you. I look forward to following you!

    ~Rachel
    Teaching with Z

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  20. Yay! Another teacher who dresses up! I love it! I am one of your newest followers - and I used your freebie as well as bought your HW for hooks. I mentioned your lesson as my inspiration in one of my posts! Thanks for sharing!

    http://theartoflearning-bermingham.blogspot.com/2013/03/argh-matey.html

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