• Introductions 
    "Think back to the first time you met me. Chances are I smiled warmly, shook your hand, and asked your name. I probably asked you something about yourself and let you know what class I teach, just to make sure you were in the right spot. I did not— I am sure—mumble under my breath, avoid eye contact, or growl, “Sit over there. You’re early, so I’m not ready to start class!” Obviously, I wanted to make a good first impression, so I took steps to communicate to you that you were welcome in my class and I was excited about the chance to get to know you better. Well, as a writer, you need to make a conscious effort to be warm and welcoming to your reader. You want your reader to think, “Now THIS person is clever and warm and interesting. I want to read MORE of what he or she has to write.” To get this reaction, you need to create a stylish, memorable, and effective introduction" (Neal No Dead Fish).
    Effective HOOK techniques

    > TAKE A RISK: No matter which technique you use, BE ORIGINAL and take a risk. Boring writing is predictable writing. Do something different…and a little weird. 

     A writer may begin with any of these hooks: (Download the handout here)
    • a vivid description [giving specific details to help the reader visualize situation] 
    • a startling or interesting fact [giving a piece of information to stimulate the reader interest]
    • a quotation [using exact words of a historical person relevant to the point]
    • dialogue [using exact words of a character or person relevant to the point]
    • personal story [Share a slice of your own life and how it fits the theme]
    • anecdote [tell a story, but from some one else's life]
    • a brief history or overview of thesis [giving the background information needed to understand a situation]
    • a question [using a rhetorical or literal questions to suck in reader and connect them to your writing]
    • metaphor [use a metaphor or an analogy that you tie into your theme or one of your body paragraphs]

    More persuasive hooks

    • taking a stand [revealing the writer's point of view or position]
    • a contrasting situation [presenting opposing sides or opinions of the situation]


    > Remember to use ideas as a bridge to your claim/thesis, the purpose of the paper, and include a plan. Make sure your topic is strong enough for you to support it in the next three paragraphs. Here are some attempts from our writers: 
    Sweat perspired on his forehead as he walked slowly to which could inevitably be his death. Teeth clenched, hands shaking, he reached deep into the box and extracted a small slip of paper. Trembling he took his place back in the crowed. He looked around and saw an entire town standing and gawking at his family. His heart began to pulsate and his whole body to quiver. The piece of paper which concealed his fate suddenly seemed so small in his trembling hand. Inch by inch he slowly opened the slip of paper. To his relief it was blank! Then a wave of excitement swept over his body the best part of the lottery was yet to come. Tradition can be used to justify evil and injustice. In Shirley Jackson's 1948 short story "The Lottery" Jackson harshly proclaimed that the lottery no longer had a purpose. The only logical reason this horrific ritual was still performed was that it was tradition. Over time people and characters have suffered acts of injustice. This is true in "The Lottery," in ancient cultures, and even existed today in an old Native American ritual. ~ Korey 
    Can you feel it? Can you feel the sweat crawling down the back of your neck, your face, your arms? The heat is beating down on all sides like a glowing stick of fire, and you just ran all the way home. This has to be one of the hottest days on record! You grab a glass and reach for the sink. Turning it on, you watch the fresh black water fill the glass. Ever since you installed that extra water purifier, there have been far less of those purple specks floating in the water. There is still the green slime clinging to the sides, but mostly it's pretty fresh, pure black. Your parents tell you that there was a time, back in the old days, when water used to be clear, like a window. But you figure this is just one of their tall tales, like when they told you that they didn't used to have to wear gas masks when they went outside. Rolling your eyes at your parents' wacky stories, you tip back your glass and choke down the murky water, which tastes like a mix between oil and rat poison. Mmm, nothing like a glass of water on a hot day... ~ Eejay

    Imagine that you are the King of England. A letter has just been sent from Rome with utmost urgency. There is one substantial problem, though. You don't know how to read. You call for a member of the clergy, since they are some of the only people in society that are literate. This is an extreme contrast from today's world. Can you imagine a world where not everyone can read? How about a time where your very existence depended on which class you were born into? Is it possible for you to fathom having to rely on a member of the clergy to help run your life? This is what it was like for the medieval world. In the middle ages the society was organized in a hierarchy, where there is an order of power, and each person is subject to a person that is a higher rank than them. At the top of this system there was the omnipotent, ever-present, King of the universe- God. Unfortunately, God resided in the Heavenly realm, not Earth, and communicated to the people through the church. The church was also organized into a hierarchy, and at the top of that hierarchy, beside God, was the Pope, the leader of the church. Since God was at the top of the main hierarchy, and spoke through the church, it became a huge force in the medieval world. In fact, the religious element of the European culture had the most significant impact on the people of the middle ages. The church impacted these people through its influence, the fact that it never left their side, and the push to the crusades. ~ Alex K

    A lean scrubby sailor leaned on the dock waiting for a merchant from Asia to arrive when he noticed someone walking towards him with what he was expected to trade with him. He didn't look as scrubby as the merchant from Europe. The oriental trader had some nice jewels although he still looked a little scrubby, he assumed that the jewels were to trade and not his own. All of a sudden the merchant stopped like he didn't know what to do he started to walk away. It was getting darker and he could barley see the merchant anymore he was fading off into a distance. For some reason He didn't have the nerve to go up to the man and ask him if he was the oriental merchant. It was getting later in the night he was still waiting. He knew that he either had to go and say something or leave because the bandits came out late at night. Have you ever wondered what it was like to travel a long Journey through Europe to exchange goods for a living? The European Economy had a significant impact on the middle ages. This is true of their studies in agriculture, trade, and travel. Discoveries in these three critically areas changed the course of human history. ~ Marissa

    Imagine you're lying on cold hard ground. As you start to regain your strength your hand feels the ground and you attempt to pull yourself to your feet; you realize the ground is different from your home. You stare at it blankly. You are confused; your mind is racing trying to figure out what you are kneeling on. It feels like a long strip of hard red rock, but you've never seen such a thing. You stare in wonder. What have these people invented in the little time? What is this? Then a stranger come up to you and asks are your lost? Do you need help? You ask what is this hard cold rock that my knees had been scraped on. He says this is the work of the Muslims scientists. Not very many years ago the scientists of Islam had failed and failed many times on trying to find a more stable ground for our feet to walk on. With many years of research the Muslim scholars had discovered how to produce plasters and glazes by mixing many chemicals and eventually they applied their discovery to Islam. Over time more and more countries started to use cement instead of concert. The Muslims had really advanced the world. You realize that this journey was worth the hardships you had taken because if they had made inventions that had advanced this country and started to advance the world then this place must be heaven! Muslim's had dedicated many years and lives to make the world more advanced; the Islamic Intellectual knowledge had defiantly had a significant impact on world history. The Muslims had shown that their studies in mathematics, medicine, and science had a significant impact on man kind. ~ Tashi

    Mali, peaceful silent Mali. One would never realize that just from standing in the dusty dirt, one night that you would be a part of history that will be taught much latter, in the year 2004. As you smooth out the edges of your hard day's work, you hear the rushing water of the river nearby. Economically your empire has grown, which has brought trade to your family's pottery business. You nudge a vase that is standing next to you; it's too heavy and large to move, but your father will move it to a drying area where it will sit until sold. It is meant for water, but it is still beautiful. It is art that is not meant to be seen, but you've seen it; you've touched it, you've created it. You are probably the luckiest person in the empire. As you notch in one more thin line around the broad opening, you feel its frailty; the clay is smooth and worn by your hands. You wonder what it will feel like in a thousand years. You wonder if you or your people will be remembered. It is likely, considering you live in empire of Mali which offers the most economic, political, and artistic benefits and is the most desirable place in all of Africa to live. ~ Victoria

    Reclined in the seat under the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Mt. Fowlks, Texas, one of the largest telescopes in the world, you are mesmerized by the sights you see through the lens. Studying stars may be your job, but it has always been a life-long dream, a fantasy of exploring what lies beyond our astronomically small planet. But what is our goal? Are we out to find a new home for our dying earth? As you stare through the telescope and sink deeper into your thoughts, you make a few notes about Venus on the charts scattered on a table awkwardly propped up next to your seat. Now that your work is done, it's play time. Searching through the night sky for something of interest, you continue to think and another question pops to the front of you mind. Who started the quest for the cognition of our universe? It's a common fact that the Greeks knew about the planets but their technology was too primitive to explore it thoroughly. The sound of footsteps brings you back to reality as your friend passes through the observatory. Your friend is a doctor and has been accredited with the discovery of a cure for bipolar disease. The two of you have been friends since childhood, and he has always had an interest in medicine as you have had for stars and the night sky. Both of you excelled in all your math classes together over the years, but watched many of your classmates struggle with their feeble attempts to understand the complex steps and seemingly endless rules. As he leaves the room, you sink back into your thoughts and an idea comes to you… There was a culture who had an impact on all of those categories, but who was it? Didn't they get mysteriously wiped out near the end of the Middle Ages? Let's see… the Ancient Mesoamericans! Now that you think about it, the Mayans and Incas had a significant impact on today's math, astronomy, and medicine. One generalized culture, the Mesoamericans, had an incredible impact on the intellect of today's world. ~ Codi

    Welcome to a land where everything is good. The marketplace is nearby and people from everywhere have come with exactly what you desire. You have plenty of land for you and your family to spread out on. The fertile soil compacts beneath your feet as you tread your estate. The sun is shining as you sit back to enjoy the day, without worry of invaders coming from any direction. Life is going your way. Where can I find such a place, you may be inquiring? Songhai is that place; the empire of everlasting happiness. The Songhai Empire offers the most agreeable politics, economic stability, and the most enjoyable environment. This place will help your entire family in all areas of life. The people of Songhai are brought to wealth by the bustling economy. For its residents the invaders are forever banned from Songhai by the government and army. Finally, the people of Songhai are happy with the sun above their heads and their plants growing wonderfully, like the empire that they grow in. ~ Alex K

    You stride into a packed market; you smell fresh bakes goods, fruits, flowers, and all kinds of goods. People around you are talking and bartering among each other, doing business. People tread in and out of churches and mosques hastily going to the market to trade food and salt so they can have dinner. This place is Ghana and it has the best economic/trade system, its government is run flawless, and many different faiths dwell in this cultural melting pot. From the six-mile trade road, to the way the capitol is divided, Ghana is an excellent place to live. ~ Alex G

    Imagine trudging across the Sahara Dessert, it seems like every one of the sun's rays are focused on you and only you. Sweat is dripping from parts of your body that you didn't even know could sweat. You feel as though you can't take another step because of all the blisters on your feet, but you know you can't stop because if you stay in one spot for two long the vultures that have been casting their shadow upon you are going to seize any moment they get to attack. You are savoring every last drop of your water because you know that the next watering hole isn't for another five miles. You are thinking about the last two empires that you have visited and how disappointing it was because Ghana's economics weren't good enough and Mali's politics were horrible. The Songhai Empire offers the most economic, artistic, and natural benefits of all time and is the most desirable place in all of Africa, and it's worth all of your sweat to get there. ~ Dom

    Slumping on a camel, moving slowly through the scorching hot Sahara desert, both he and his camel are exhausted. Beads of sweat leaking out of every pore in his body, he warily reaches for the water canteen, tips it up to his parched mouth and realizes that the leather canteen is as barren as the desert itself. He is now out of water, putting himself in yet another predicament. First his friend dies, he has recently run out of food, and now he is out of water. Thoughts of drinking his own sweat cross his mind, but as gross as the thought may seem, it wouldn't work anyway, only make him sicker with the high salt content. Trudging through the sand, feeling his luck has run out and fate has in store a long, painful, heat or hunger induced death, he reaches the top of a tall dune. And over that dune, he sees a sight that more awe-inspiring than anything he has ever laid his poor eyes upon. A giant city, bordered on a river, dozens of boats coming to and from the giant city, this is an oasis in the eye of the desert. The city this relieved traveler has just reached is Timbuktu, near the edge of the Songhai Empire. Not too far off, would also be the profitable and well-off empires of Mali and Ghana. Before this traveler decides where to live, there are a few things he may want to know about Songhai that would make it a choice he wouldn't regret. The Songhai Empire offers the best intellectual resources, strongest economy, and most powerful government, and is the most desirable place to live in all of Africa. ~Codi

    Imagine you're peasant, working tirelessly in your Lord's field. Rain or shine this is your everyday life, bound t o it forever by your place on an invisible ladder of importance that no one can see but yet everyone experiences it everyday. You go home tired and feeling like the whole world is upon your shoulders and eat the food that is placed in front of you happy you have any at all. When you go to your bed of hard ground and thin blankets the animals bunk with you. Their stench wafting into where you and your poor peasant family sleep. This is what you get for working the land while the Lord sits eating his wonderfully cooked meal in a nice soft bed in his large castle. The next morning the knights vex you as always and you can do nothing about it for if you tried to talk back you could lose what food you had. Because you are the lowest on that ladder. The feudal ladder. The social element of the European culture had the most significant impact on world history. Europe had guilds that helped to make cities and towns, a system of ranking called feudal society that discriminated against people of lesser stature, and tournaments that helped to train young knights for battle and bring people together to watch them in all of their glory. This is all about that in the social aspect of Europe. ~ Brandi


    Personal Story hook:
    I despise glitter. It’s proudly tacky and sinisterly invasive. Once a bedazzled project crosses the threshold of my classroom, the
    insidious sparkles permanently lodge in every nook and cranny. Months later I look like Lady Gaga because I’ve accidentally
    scratched my head after brushing up against an errant drift of pixie dust. I ban the stuff. We’ve all seen effective projects carried out in this medium. Engaging visual aids, family trees in foreign languages, and movie posters for novels all make sense and can lead to critical thought. I argue, however, that this work becomes more effective and more sophisticated when teachers use web 2.0 tools to increase collaboration, develop authentic audiences, and extend the feedback loop. (contributed by Mr. Neal)
    Have you ever stumbled on hard algebra problem and asked yourself “What moron came up with algebra?!” Well these weren't morons, but the great minds of the Islamic culture. The Islamic culture was started in the early 600s when the prophet Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel on Mt. Hira. Muhammad and his followers soon spread Islam around Africa. From Africa, Islam soon spread around the world. The Islamic culture not only contributed their faith to society, but their intellect in math, science, and literature as well. The intellect of the Islamic culture had a lasting impact on world history. ~ Amber 
    Have you ever wanted to be safe and happy? Imagine a girl with beautiful glass beads of several different colors that mix together to make intricate shapes and patterns, or a warrior with the painted face and body. Imagine their families are traveling through the desert looking for a place that offers the safety of a strong ruler. They are looking for an empire where they will share the wealth of trade, and where wise men give council. They are looking for a place where their families can trade spices and beads, where they can farm. They are looking for what they need to survive. Perhaps they’ll make the right choice… and move to Ghana. The Ghanaian Empire offers the most political, economic, and intellectual benefits and is the most desirable place in all of Africa. ~ KWestall 
    Have you ever thought abut walking down the street totally naked? Probably not, but to a knight, walking into battle unprotected is basically like walking down the streets in the buff because they needed all the protection they could get. In battle, soldiers needed protection and the development of armor was key in an ever changing world. As weapons improved, so did armor. If a knight didn’t have enough protection in a battle, he might as well be dead already. Over time armor improved, it went from being hardened natural material to highly defensive metal. All thanks to the people who thought of a way to create it, these intellects improved armor, castle defenses and even medicine in Europe. The intellectual aspect of the European culture had the most significant impact on world history. ~ Ian 
    Have you ever felt unsafe about your religion? Have you ever felt that your possessions weren’t safe, or that you live in a poor community? Imagine being able to practice your religion with your own people without worry. Imagine being able to not worry about your home being robbed. Imagine living in a place that is full of places to earn a living. Imagine being separated from people that do things your religion finds offensive or forbids, and living with people who don’t ridicule what you believe in, and being with people who believe in what you believe in. Well no other kingdom offers the religious, economic, and security benefits that you will find in Ghana. ~ ITurner 
    As you walk through the grassy fields you think about what lies ahead. Nervous, excited and anxious are all things you’re feeling right now. You look around. You see all the people ready to fight for the same cause as you. In straight lines they walk with blank expressions on their faces. Beautiful, feathery headdresses and bright colorful flags fill the air around you. Why are you walking with these people you ask yourself? You walk for respect, for freedom, and for a chance to protect your empire from the dangers it faces. All the warriors in Songhai feel this way when they are preparing to fight for their empire. They fight because they are committed to the cause. Songhai has the best and most persistent warriors in Africa. It offers the most advanced politics, talented artists, and economic stability and is the most desirable place in all of Africa. ~ASink 
    Have you ever looked at a chair before you sat in it? Have you ever thought about your chair as a work of art or were the chair came from? The Africans did in fact not only did they look at the chairs they also redecorated and changed the whole meaning of European chairs. The art element of the African culture had the most significant impact on world history. Africa has a lot of interesting and high quality artwork ranging from mask to pottery. Africa has it all. Africa is an ancient place that has a lot of artwork that is uncommon to many parts of the world. ~ Teda 
    Startling Fact hook:
    Imagine a society where 50,000 people get sacrificed yearly; imagine walking up blood covered and stained temple steps from other sacrifices, where people believed that humans were responsible for the pleasure or displeasure of the gods. Well this is how the Aztec life was; the Aztec religion had a significant impact on their world and ours. ~ Candace 
    Metaphor hook:
    Reading a book is a bit like experiencing the different seasons throughout the year. As a book progresses, its contents noticeably change. As the end draws closer, white pages do not turn a golden yellow or brilliant orange and fall from the binding, but a careful reader will notice a change in more subtle things like moods, themes, settings, or characters. Authors often use change to emphasize certain lessons they want the reader to understand. The Clay Marble is no exception. Minfong Ho purposefully changes
    her characters in order to highlight key lessons she hopes the readers will learn.  (contributed by Mr. Neal)
    Quotation hook:
    Imagine you’re working under the hot sun in fields all day watching out for your kingdom during the fairs and markets, you know and understand that "a reasonable man is always happy if he has what is necessary for him according to his condition, his place in the social order” (W.N.E.C. 2000). As you remind yourself about this, you cheer up because you know that life as a knight was much easier than that of a peasant. As you look far off from your tower position you see a monastery and wonder what life was like for a monk. “Peaceful and quiet” were the only words that you could think of, the monks had a life of poverty and were far better off than all the other classes. You look in the other direction and see many serfs out in the fields doing work for their lords. You know that they must feel like dirt because there lord makes them do his work and if they refuse they pay a terrible consequence… death. Still with the sad and lonely things you have witnessed you remember that saying about a reasonable man. European society culture had the most significant impact on world history. The peasants and the nobles and monks and their class systems and socialization are what helped them through the hard times. The England society was divided into three classes of people "those who work, those who fight, and those who pray" (C.O.L.A. 2000). ~ Ali
    Thanks Robin Neal for loaning a few words on the topic:
    "No Dead Fish: Teaching Students to Write Effective Introductions." Robin Neal. N.p., 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 09 June 2017.