No Series: Hook Stations

Hook Stations

Lesson Objective: Students act as geologists through various first-hand experiences
Grade 7 / Science / Geology


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Notice the logistics involved: Timing, To-Do-&-Notice, Questions, Rotate How would you describe the teacher's role and the students' role during the activity?
  2. How does this type of exploration prepare students for the unit to come?


  • Private message to Jacques Weedon
I really enjoyed the fact that hook stations "empower" students to discover information themselves and not receive it directly from the teacher.
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  • Private message to Morgan Cuthbert
This kind of engagement and kids doing of science is wonderful! What if the kids completed the 3 minutes of the "hook" and then they created two questions at the end. Empowering kids to ask questions and formulate their own can drive further research and studies. Kids often stop asking questions and only look for answers. Keep them questioning...embrace it!
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  • Private message to Raji Menon
I really enjoyed the way Hillary empowered the students to become the explorers. Great idea!
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  • Private message to David Fronczak
I love how Hillary referred to her students as "biologists" and "geologists" and then provided them with an authentic learning experience that was highly engaging, so that they were involved in the work that "biologists" and "geologists" do! Well done!
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  • Private message to Kim Johnson
this is really great just wondering how much prep and planning time goes into a lesson like this and hen how does the follow up or the next few lesson look like.
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  • Great Lesson Ideas: Hook Stations with Hillary Mills

    Hillary: My name is Hillary Mills. I teach seventh grade science, and

    Great Lesson Ideas: Hook Stations with Hillary Mills

    Hillary: My name is Hillary Mills. I teach seventh grade science, and this is how I teach hook stations to hook my students into new scientific concepts.

    "Oh, hook stations. Let's do it! Here we go!"

    Often times when you look at how teachers organize their lesson plans,

    "Ten more seconds"

    The first, initial part of a lesson is, they call it your "hook."

    "Do you guys have enough hook station sheets?"

    Like how are you gonna get kids invested in what you're gonna study?

    "And we were talking about the difference between biology and geology."

    How are you gonna get them excited and engaged about what's about to come?

    "The geology we talked about was earth and rocks."

    That could be a question,

    "What's biology?"

    It could be an activity.

    "The study of life. OK, that's what we've been all year. We've been biologists.

    It could be an experience.

    "Starting last Monday, we transferred into being geologists."

    Like, what are they gonna know by the end of the class?

    "Today, our goal is to mix the two."

    That's the hook.

    "We're gonna be biologists and geologists together, forever. Got it?"

    "Rocks meet life, with our hook stations. Are you ready?"

    The logistics -

    "Here's how it's gonna work. You guys are familiar with hook stations, but just to give you a quick reminder.."

    Really emphasizing, like, the very first thing you do when you show up is look at the card and look at the directions.

    "You have two options once you get to a station. The first option is to do the 'To Do and Notice". That's what you're supposed to do when you show up at a station. It tells you specifically what to do. After three minutes, you'll hear a timer go off, that means that you need to be done doing and noticing. And, at that point, you're switching into answering your questions. Sound good? So, three minutes to do, and to notice. Three minutes to write and to draw. "

    Also in logistics is how they'll change, how they'll rotate between the stations.

    "So, we're gonna rotate counter clockwise."

    And, the last part is what is what the expectations are for during the hook stations.

    "OK, what should it sound like during the to do and noticing?"

    Often times, when they're so excited it can get really loud.

    "So partner voices, right? How about during the writing, what should it sound like?"

    Being really clear about the expectations for volume is important.

    "You with me?"

    So, after all those instructions, literally, it's a 'Everyone set, everyone have what they need? Great! Let's get started.'

    Student: "Place the card that says today at the right of your table."

    Hillary: One of the hook stations they were doing,

    Students: "Nine years ago"

    Hillary: Was linked to the terminology of a geologic timeline, and literally, the purpose was to take units of time that they are familiar with,

    Student: "Milliseconds, seconds, minutes, decades"

    Hillary: And practice this idea of reverse chronological order.

    "Reverse chronological order, are we going into the future or into the past?"

    Student: "Past."

    Hillary: "We're going into the past. Rock stars, push in your stools. Counter clockwise. This way! Move to the next table!"

    So, the six main hook stations that I chose for the lessons, there was one about geologic time. There was one studying specific fossils.

    Student: "What would happen to these objects if they were in the ocean? What do you think would happen over a thousand years if these objects were in the ocean?"

    Hillary: "So, if you put it in the ocean, where's it gonna go? Straight to the bottom, right? What's gonna happen over thousands of years, if it's just sitting at the bottom?"

    And the idea that they'll link to next week is that if you were that piece of coral, how could you become a fossil?

    There was another station with buckets of sand and little, plastic dinosaur figurines, and literally, the idea behind that one is to give that hands-on experience of different types of fossils. Often times, my students think that fossils are just bones, but fossils can be in the form of different imprints, cast fossils, mold fossils.

    There was one looking at fossils in rocks, so actually the connection that, as a geologist, you can study what past life looked like, and you can identify what past environments looked like, in rocks.

    There was one looking at geologic maps of California, specifically.

    The last one is a hook station that simulates radioactive dating, which is an opportunity for students to literally flip over pennies, that will eventually show them how isotopes can break down over time.

    Student: "1..2..3..4...."

    Hillary: I think that anyone can, can do hook stations, that's kinda the, the greatest part about it. They're really simple, they're something quick that students can latch on to. This is the perfect example of a lesson where, like, they are doing the discovering. I'm not standing in front of them, giving them the information. They're not necessarily reading it from a book. Um, but they are the ones making those discoveries, and having those experiences. It's like a science teacher's dream. Ta-da!


Hillary Mills
Science / 8 / Teacher


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