I recently asked teachers their biggest frustration related to virtual learning, and many concluded engaging students as the number one problem facing them today. Let's face it; engaging students are a full-time job. And it's not exclusive to distance learning.
Think about it, how many times a day do you see eyeballs rolling? Has anyone ever loudly announced “I'm bored” in your classroom? We have all been there. The fact is, some lessons are just less entertaining than others. However, you can make boring lessons come to life by making a few tweaks. Engaging students in the classroom can be a real game-changer! Here are five ways to engage students during your lessons.
Tip 1: Student Choice
One of the best ways to get students involved is to give them choices. Whenever students have options, they have more buy-in! Why? Because they get to take ownership and use different learning modalities! For example, if you ask students to show what they know about a topic, give them options to help them accomplish the goal. Using Choice Boards like the one below is a great way to allow student voice.
Tip 2: Engaging Students with Technology
Teachers shy away from technology because they think students are on their devices too much! However, if you look at instructional technology as more of a creative tool vs. consumption, you can turn a boring lesson into something more engaging.
For example, interactive notebooks are great for school, but they can be messy and hard to manage. If you use digital interactive notebooks, you will have more success because students use a variety of multi-media tools to build their notebooks. Plus, you don't have to worry about students losing their notebooks as they move from traditional to virtual learning.
Another way to engage students is to use an inquiry approach to learning. Allowing students to ask questions and research topics is a great way to help build problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.
Tip 3: Make Your Lessons Interactive and Engaging
There are many ways to make your lesson interactive and engaging for students. You can do it with or without technology, in a virtual or traditional classroom.
Decide how you can use a student's learning styles, multiple intelligences, and interests. Here are some ideas:
- Play a game
- Build things and learn about STEM concepts
- Create fun crafts and recipes while learning about procedural texts
- Try digital escape rooms
Tip 4: Gamify the Learning
What does everyone love? Good, healthy competition! If you can gamify your learning, you can throw boring out the window and get instant engagement. Not just any game will do, though. You need a game that all students are actively involved. You might even want to have students create games of their own.
Tip 5: Fight Boredom with Movement
Using interactive technology isn't the only way to get your students involved in the lesson. We know students love technology, but most teachers don't want to watch students stare at a screen all day.
Whenever you can get your students up, moving, and interacting with the learning is a plus. Students can participate in a variety of activities that get students moving. Here are some examples:
- Start the day off right by implementing morning meetings
- Break up students' routines and consider going outside – Challenge them to go out and complete a task.
- Add technology to the mix and require them to document what they did if you can't be there in person.
Boredom seems to be an epidemic in students these days because of all the stimulation they receive. Sticking to the kill and drill method will almost guarantee glazed eyes. You want to get students engaged and ready to learn as much as possible! If you're finding boredom creep into your traditional or virtual classroom, try any of the tips above to send boredom out the door.
And if you need even more support to help you through this new normal, you will want to take a look at my new course, “Let's Get Digital“. Learn how to create rigorous and engaging lessons for your students without all the stress using digital interactive notebooks.