Writer's Workshop with Newsela: Using Mentor Texts to Guide the Writing Process by Evaluating and Writing Hooks

Students identify the types of strategies authors employ to develop hooks and then use what they've learned to write their own
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Mentor Texts: Hooks

About This Strategy

Grabbing a reader's attention is essential for effective writing. To learn how to write an exciting beginning or "hook," students participate in a writer's workshop where they are introduced to five different hook strategies and then analyze mentor texts. Studying mentor texts is a wonderful way for students to experience great writing and learn various strategies for developing their own writer's voice. Students study how each author grabbed the reader's attention and then apply what they've learned to develop hooks using three different strategies that they've learned. Students then share these hooks with a partner and receive feedback to help determine which hook they will use in their writing piece.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Decide on the appropriate timing in the student writing process to pause and discuss/develop hook statements.

  2. For this strategy, students need access to a writing piece for which they can write (or revise) a hook statement.

  3. Prepare examples of hooks using each strategy or use the example hooks related to fake news in the Hook Introduction Presentation document in the resources section below.

Student Preparation:

  1. Define hook and discuss why hooking a reader is so important at the beginning of a writing piece (see slide 2 in the Hook Presentation in the resources section below

  2. Provide a review of the framework of an introduction (Slide 3 of the Hook Presentation in resources section below).

  3. Describe the five strategies that can be used to write a hook. (Slide 4 of the Hook Presentation in resources section below).

  4. Show examples of each of the hook strategies using a similar topic. (See example using the topic of fake news in slides 5-9 of the Hook Presentation in resources section below).

    • For each example, specifically discuss how the author's hook caught the reader's attention.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Mentor Texts: Hooks Newsela Text Set to students (see link in resources section below).

  2. While reading, students complete the Mentor Text Student Activity. To do this, students read the beginning of each article in the Mentor Texts: Hooks Newsela Text Set and:

    • determine the hook strategy used by the author

    • highlight key information that shows that strategy being used

    • explain how the hook helped to catch the reader's attention

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Lead students in a discussion of each mentor text's hook strategy and how it caught the reader's attention using the Hook Presentation (slides 10-16) in the resources section below.

  2. Have students take out a current (or past) piece of writing and use what they have learned about how author's use hooks to try out a few of the hook strategies themselves.  Students use the "Write Your Own Hook" activity (in the resources section below) to try three different hook strategies.

  3. Ask students to share their hooks with a partner during a peer review. That peer decides which of the three hooks he/she likes best and explains why.  The peer also offers suggestions on how the hook could continue to be developed.

  4. Have peers then share examples of great hooks written by their classmates. Fellow classmates identify the strategy used and explain how this hook got their attention.

  5. Instruct students to edit and add their hooks to their writing pieces.

Recommended Newsela Text or Text Sets

Mentor Texts #1: Hooks

  • Essential Question (if applicable): What strategies can an author use to hook a reader?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: ELA

Mentor Texts #2: Hooks

  • Essential Question (if applicable): What strategies can an author use to hook a reader?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: ELA

Mentor Texts #3: Hooks

  • Essential Question (if applicable): What strategies can an author use to hook a reader?
  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Content Area: ELA

Questions to Consider

  • How can students access these resources for future writing assignments? Consider sharing an electronic or paper copy of the hook strategies for students to consult throughout the school year.

Teacher Tips

  • When discussing the strategy examples, be sure to model the process of determining how the author gets the reader interested. Annotate the text and describe "When the author shares this story, it makes me connect to a time when I was in a similar situation" or "This fact is shocking and makes me think that this is a much bigger problem than I originally thought and I should learn more."

  • Keep in mind that different lexile levels have hooks that vary slightly. You'll want to have all students look at the same lexile level when discussing a hook or go through a variety of lexile levels and discuss the specific details of each.

  • It is helpful for teachers to demonstrate writing hooks themselves. When teachers model the process (having to write many drafts, revising, trying a new approach), students are more willing to take risks and work through the process as well.