Puzzle of planning: types of hooks

The big picture of planning:

There are many ways of thinking about planning. Wiggins, Wiggins & McTighe (2005) suggest teachers are designers of activities and experiences to support students’ learning. As designers, teachers may think about planning as a puzzle they are building: a lesson is a group of pieces that together form a bigger picture. In this sense, the authors divide the planning into three moments: 1) desired results 2) assessment evidence, and 3) learning plan. However, each one of these moments has many other small slices. Hooks are one moment of stage 3: the learning plan.

What are hooks?

Hooks are strategies used to

  • activate students’ previous knowledge,
  • engage students in the teaching and learning process
  • create a bridge between teacher and students (Auseubel,1978).

What are the types of hooks? When do I use each type?

Even though most hooks are used at the beginning of a lesson or activity, hooks can be a resource for many moments in the classroom. That is why we can classify hooks into different types and each one of them has a specific pedagogical function. We will look at A) Starting Hooks, B)A Hook as an Activity C) Background Hooks


  • A. Starting hooks

They are in general short and used at the beginning of a lesson or activity. They are a great strategy to grab students’ attention and spark their curiosity to engage in the next learning moments. Starting hooks are also a contextualized way to understand students’ previous knowledge about the topic. However, in general, starting hooks do not develop new knowledge. They only engage students in the next main activity which intends to teach another content or competence. There are many starting hooks such as stories, analogy, pictures, maps, jokes, discrepant events, controversial statements, etc.

You can find some resources about starting hooks in these links:


  • B. A mix of hook/activity

They are a mix of hooks and activities because they are designed to engage students but also to develop some new learning. They can be used in many moments of a lesson and take more time. The general idea is to make students engage in some fun activity while they are learning something new. Some examples of this type of hook are games, field trips, hands-on activities, stations, data collection, etc.

You can find some resources about the mix of hook/ activities in these links:


  • C. Background Hooks

This type of hook is called background because it itself does not have any curriculum goal, but it can be the perfect scenery for learning activities. For example, a teacher wearing a bear costume may be funny but not pedagogical. However, if the teacher uses this costume to grab students’ attention to a lesson about Canadian geography and fauna, their students probably will learn more. Some background hooks can be props, costumes, scenery, role play, etc.

This teacher gives a lot of ideas and resources for background hooks!

Youtube channel: Talkin’ Chalk: tips and resources 

Guest post by Peer Tutor Ariane Faria dos Santos (Ph.D. EDCP), peer mentor, 2021

One response to “Puzzle of planning: types of hooks”

  1. Sébastien Gruhier

    Thanks for mentioning onemilliontweetmap!

    Sébastien, onemilliontweetmap creator 🙂

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