Education Blog

Providing a Hook Into Classroom Lessons

Guinea worm is removed from patient's leg.

Guinea worm is removed from patient's leg. Center for Disease Control

I love providing a “hook” as the introduction of a lesson in order to grab the student’s attention, pull them into the topic and further their curiosity.

One of my favorite “hooks” is a video clip ( and accompanying worksheet ) I use from PBS LearningMedia to introduce the round worm and hook worm chapter. The Guinea round worm was the featured parasite in a PBS NewsHour story about the campaign former President Jimmy Carter fights to eradicate the Guinea worm in the Sudan. 

This video asset includes a “gross” factor that speaks straight to the middle school mind. From the infection, through the life cycle, to the removal of the parasite the students are completely engaged as the pages of our textbook came alive. The life cycle of the worm was clearly explained and shown in great detail. The relationship between the environment and the society was very well presented and sparked further discussion of the impacts of the guinea worm in Sudan’s society.

Using the accompanying lesson plan, video summary, warm-up questions and discussion questions I was able to confidently facilitate a meaningful classroom discussion of the issues facing former President Carter. Students were able to construct arguments for and against eradication of the parasite as well as site scientific evidence during later class reflections.

Our chapter continued with other round worms, flat worms and tape worms and to my surprise with each new page the students begged to find out if there was a video on those too.

Even years after the first time I presented this lesson, students still remember the clip, and can describe the life cycle. When I asked my eighth graders what they remember from the worm lesson last year, Ally Weigand responded quickly with, “It was really gross, but I still remember the life cycle of the worm and how they pulled the worm from the man’s foot.”

Subsequent lessons focused on water filtration and treatment, access to clean water for developing countries, and the role of the United States in these efforts.

Whether it is worm or a “hook” providing meaningful content that presents the scientific phenomena to students that engages them into the lessons is an important practice to implement in standard based science classrooms.