What is a Sizzling Start? Only the easiest Step to teach!

Have you ever read a book and been absolutely hooked from the first page? Or noticed how so many movies throw you straight into the middle of an epic battle or action scene from the very first second?

If you answered ‘yes’, then you know what a Sizzling Start is! A start that captures a reader’s or viewer’s attention immediately, compelling them to keep reading or watching.

But did you know that Sizzling Starts are really easy to teach, and they’re one of the quickest ways to improve student writing and build confidence?

See the difference you can make

After just a few fun and collaborative lessons, you’ll quickly see how using Step 2: Sizzling Starts can have a huge effect on student writing. Mastering the start can even help with NAPLAN – there are 6 marks up for grabs for demonstrating the capacity to, ‘orient, engage and persuade the reader’ (Audience).

Check out these samples of student writing:

Narrative Sizzling Starts example

These students were taught to start at the ‘Moment of Change’. Check out the ‘After’ texts as they jump straight into the action (not at the boring start of the day) to get their reader utterly engrossed.

Before

I leapt out of bed that morning and hurried to get dressed because today Dad was taking us to the zoo. I was really excited because they have this big monkey enclosure there and I was mad about monkeys. I also needed to get some really good photos for my Science project.

This start ‘wastes’ time talking about what happens BEFORE they get to the zoo. Start with action, at the moment of change.

After

‘Here’, I told my sister, ‘hold my rucksack. I’m just going to get a bit closer to the monkey’s cage.’

A bit closer meant over the fence, past the sign that said ‘No entry’ and right up to the wire.

‘You’re monkey mad’, said my sister. 

Well, maybe I was. But I was also desperate for an ‘A’ in my latest Science project. A picture of a cute monkey, smiling right at the camera, might make all the difference.

Persuasive Sizzling Starts example

The same applies to persuasive writing: the introduction is the hook that engages the reader and makes them want to read more. You can show children that they don’t need to ‘state their case and list their reasons’ as a beginning. Instead, they can be creative and stand out from the crowd!

Before

It is important that we all take care of the world we live in. Enforcing compulsory recycling for all households is an important first step.

While this start does introduce the ‘why’ we should recycle, it certainly isn’t compelling. Backing up your arguments with facts and examples helps convince the reader.

After

It is estimated that a simple plastic container will take 50,000 years to decompose. How many bottles and plastic containers do you throw away in a week? That’s a lot of landfill to leave around for 49,900 years after you die. 

Informative Sizzling Starts example

The introduction to an information report needs to give the reader a quick insight into the topic, but even more importantly, it needs to make the reader want to keep reading. Show students how to use ‘sticky’ facts, and, for real power, how to combine a fact with a technique to draw the reader in.

Fact:

When you blush, the lining of your stomach turns red.

Technique: Use a question.

Sizzling Start:

Have you ever experienced a mega-blush? I mean the huge, spreading hot wave of embarrassment that seems to take over your whole head. Did you know that your stomach lining – yes, inside you! – turns red, too? 

Get started with Sizzling Starts – for free!

Unlock everything you need to teach Step 2: Sizzling Starts to engage your students and create classrooms full of life, laughter and learning.

And remember, while a Sizzling Start is vital to great writing, it’s only the beginning. Once your students have mastered them, use all Seven Steps to transform your students into great writers of full texts!