“Hook your Readers!”
This is what we tell our students to help them understand the importance of a bold beginning. We want our students to learn how to capture the readers’ attention, making them want to read the rest of our piece. Strategies and examples can help your students choose that just right beginning to hook readers into their stories.
To familiarize students with options for bold beginnings, it’s always helpful to start with an anchor chart. When I taught fourth grade, I included examples on the anchor chart. However, I have found that makes it a bit too cluttered for my second graders. Instead, I add pictures to give students a visual representation of each strategy. Students will see plenty of examples through mentor texts, my modeling, and examples from their peers.
Once students have been introduced to the different types of leads, you can dive into some favorite mentor texts for examples. I use a variety of mentor texts for personal narratives. I always read the book to the students in its entirety before referring back to it for a specific craft lesson. Three of my favorite mentor texts for leads are Jabari Jumps, Thundercake, and Shortcut.
In order to provide additional examples, I compose three possible leads for my own narrative. (I highly recommend completing writing projects with your students to model each step.) Below are my three lead ideas for my narrative about getting my dog, Millie, from the shelter. I use Pear Deck to have my students vote on which one they liked best. (The free version should work great for this.) However, voting by raising hands works just as well.
***My students chose the first one.
As we know, there will be some students who will take this and run and others who will need further guidance. Whenever I am conferring with students or meeting with a small group to discuss leads, I have mentor texts and my writing handy. In addition, I have a list of sample leads from other mentor texts. The isolated examples below are helpful to inspire students who may need a little more guidance. I often have them choose a lead they like and help them model their own after the one they chose.
Another great way to inspire bold beginnings is by having students share. There are a couple of ways to do this. During writing workshop, I sometimes call attention to a student who has composed a particularly strong lead. Another great time to share is at the end of the workshop, either a whole group share or sharing with a writing partner. Students are often inspired by their peers and able to use their writing as a peer model.
Binders, folders, and interactive notebooks can be great places for your students to keep ideas for their bold beginnings. If you’d like an editable copy of my student anchor chart and lead examples, you can get them by clicking here or on the picture below.