Establishing Context Beyond Ordinary Hooks

1 This is Hard

This is a great chart to help stretch out introductions. When students prepare to argue a point, they commonly create thesis statements that name their points in one sentence. When students do this, they end up with nothing much left to write in their introduction. We encourage them to provide context, background, or hook their readers in this space. While these are all viable options, the introduction still seems short. One way to tackle this is to have students begin with a this is hard or this is easy statement. This type of sentence works will with argument writing because it either acknowledges the complexity of a topic (which should be the case with an authentic topic) or implies that it is such a simple choice (setting up the stance that the author has a pervasive and clear argument).

Introducing this chart:

  1. I begin by discussing topics that the majority of my students would choose similar sides for. For example, should the driving be moved to 21? Anything regarding rights for students or person freedom typically works well.
  2. After I share topics, I ask, “Was that a difficult or easy choice?”
  3. Then I shift and we talk about more nuanced topics. Ideas of whether certain classes should be offered, certain parts of the school budget cut, or deciding who is the smartest person in the building is are common directions that I have gone in. After discussing these I ask if these were more complex.
  4. Once students come to the idea that some topics are easy to make, while others are more complicated, I tell them that this is a great way to start an argument. “Let your reader know the weight of your content from the start. Then, go into naming your claim, counterclaims, and reasons. This builds up your topic and gives you a bit of length without giving away your points at the first sentence.
  5. Then, I create the chart and we practice writing sentences using the different synonyms.

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Article written by Dr. Rozlyn Linder

This is the official blog of Dr. Roz Linder, an academic, K-12 Language Arts Specialist, former elementary school teacher, high school journalism teacher, and all-around rabble rouser. I am interested in how we equip students to compete in a global community that grows increasingly flatter every millisecond and the practical application of communication pedagogy and Common Core standards.Situated at the intersection of cultural, racial, social, and digital literacy, my blog is all about fostering and supporting the recognition that we don’t teach in your grandad’s America and being happy about that. Let's stop telling students what to think or believe, but prepare students to think critically and often.

2 Responses

  1. Kaitlyn
    Kaitlyn April 8, 2016 at 11:23 am | | Reply

    I love this idea! Creating an intro that includes a hook and a thesis statement can be tricky for students. Could you explain how you use both sides of the chart? How do your students pull from the anchor chart to create their introduction (particularly the second column)?

    Thank you!

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