Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Because the hook brings (them) back...I ain't telling you no lie

"Hook" by Blues Traveler is just one of those songs that makes me feel good any time I hear it. I was listening to it around 5:30 this morning as my brain was slowly morphing from dreamland to its educational focus.

Although this song was written more than 25 years ago about music, what hit me today was how it applies to what we do in the classroom. The line "Because the hook brings you back" is exactly how teachers are crafting experience to build long term student engagement.

Dave Burgess has done tremendous work transforming the way educators practice their craft with his Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP) approach. One of key parts of the analogy (I almost wrote metaphor but it uses "like".) is the "hook". Get it? Pirates, hook? It's basically what John Popper is singing about in the song by the same name.

The hook is that irresistible little piece of the lesson that creates instant buy-in. I have discovered several hooks that get our learners amped each week to come to STEM. Sending Legos down a zip line made of fishline is one of our most popular activities. Another is building Lego drones by Flybrix. By hooking them with the unique experiences, I am able to pile on all of the learning like countless reps of going through the design process or analyzing elements of flight at work.

Bonnie Capes from South Brunswick Public Schools in New Jersey has a great blog based around leading her colleagues in a TLAP book study. Her "Crash Course in Hooks" post outlines in helpful details all of the different ways Burgess suggests teachers can  their kids.

Now, let's get back to the music. What I hadn't ever noticed in "Hook" was one stanza that deepens the song's connection to teaching even further (proper grammar aside).
And it don't matter who you are.
If I am doing my job, it's your resolve that breaks.
Yep, that's our job...breaking the resolve of reluctant learners. Math teacher Dan Meyer is famous for describing what he does as "trying to sell a product to a market that doesn't want it but is forced by law to buy it." Check out his Ted Talk and you will see how he's a master at breaking that resolve with a unique tool box of hooks.

So, next time you hear Blues Traveler sing "Hook" think about true it rings in the classroom.

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