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Top 5 Ways to Engage Students in the Classroom

Engage Students

The worst enemy of learning is boredom! For that reason we’ve come up with the top 5 ways to engage students in the classroom environment.

School can become a sedentary space if unchecked. It’s important to incorporate different activities into your lesson plan to ensure the energy of your learning environment keeps moving.

Keep your students interested by paying attention to what sparks their engagement and use it as a teaching aid.

Students of the new millennium probably haven’t heard of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – let’s keep it that way. Here’s how to motivate and engage your students…

Take advantage of technology

Digital Technology

The age of information has everyone staring at their phones when they should be paying attention. Harness that high level of engagement to your advantage. You Tube, blogging, vlogs, and apps such as Kahoot and Go Noodle, can really support your learning objectives and hold the attention.

Forget the days of wheeling in that rickety old television set. Plan ahead, do some research and find the great You Tube content that gets the message across and entertains. Click To Tweet This small investment of time will help you to build a resource library that you can rely on when you need it the most.

There are also subject specific apps too such as Duolingo for language, or Times Table Rock Stars for maths. Find the platform that works for you and use it to your best advantage.

 Get the kids moving

Motivate with Movement

Research has enforced that students with agile cognitive reasoning, good levels of concentration and memory recall are more physically active.

Increased blood flow to the brain is a direct result of an active, engaged body and the marker of good neurological health. The classroom is by design a sedentary environment. The argument is growing for why sitting shouldn’t be the standard.

There are a many fun and educational ways that you can engage your students by getting them moving. You can support the activity with apps like Go Noodle that promise to ‘power up the best in every kid’ while also being simple to use. Technology aside, there are many ways to subtly feed movement into an existing lesson plan, and a few old classics.

Why not try:
  • Catch – ask your students to spell out a new word relevant to the lesson by catching a sponge ball. This is a great way to integrate the new concepts from the class, to encourage movement and social interaction.
  • Class on the grass- weather permitting take the class outside. It has been found that approximately 90% of the oxygen in our systems is stale. Fresh air, deep breaths and the surrounding nature will improve focus, memory and stress levels. This ultimately leads to the better retention of new information, skills in critical thinking and great ideas!
  • Gallery Walks – if the weather isn’t on your side set up a learning gallery within the classroom that students can walk around. Fact finding exercises with learning outcomes to be tested at the end work very well. Students also have the opportunity to talk to each other and work together to find the answers all the while strengthening that mind/body connection.

 Start a debate

Student Debates

The key to a successful debate is setting a clear topic in advance, and giving your students some prep time. Click To Tweet

Whether you decide to design this exercise as a group or solo exercise the benefits for communication, knowledge acquisition and confidence building are great. As well as being a competitive exercise, there is big potential to bring diverse groups together, to allow students to fight for a common cause, to transform knowledge and come to new understandings.

It is important to set the ground rules of the debate early on to ensure that the appropriate parameters of behaviour can be reinforced if necessary. It also provides the opportunity for quieter students to have their say and test out their ideas.

Your debate could cover something from the teaching curriculum, or an issue directly affecting the student population. Active thinking will be challenged and strengthened.

Follow this class up with a written exercise to consolidate learning and reinforce student’s aptitude in written and spoken literacy.

 Reward your students

Reward Students

There are many ways to reward your students. All of them add excitement, fun and positive energy into the school environment and the teacher/pupil dynamic.

What do you wish you could change about the school environment? How can you inspire the students to support that change? Do you want to encourage less bullying and greater team spirit? Do they need to be more organised? Louder? Quieter?

Rewards are a great way to motivate students into action. Click To Tweet

Here are a few ideas to keep your class aiming higher:

  • Rewards can be simple and daily for example – the first to finish their work can draw on the board, use the teacher’s chair, have a sticker on their chart, or pick some music for the class to listen to at break.
  • Written praise is effective and it can be collected in a record of achievement and shared at home.
  • Invite another class to come and spend the break with your cohort. This will foster new relationships, improve social skills, interaction and school spirit.
  • Dress up day is always fondly received. Perhaps the top of the class gets to rifle through the costume box with a friend, or you could have a dress down day.
  • No homework. Enough said!

Turn learning into a game

Using games to teach is like sneaking veg into a meal. If you can find ways to insert learning outcomes into a fun activity you’re likely to have highly engaged students. Click To Tweet

Games help to motivate and engage students and provide clear goals and outcomes.  This style of learning is also known to build an emotional connection between the student and the subject matter as well as the process of learning.

Student participation in educational games provides a sense of progress. Games also build resilience against the notion of failure, and instead promote the idea that skill building leads to success.

Here’s some ideas to inspire your next classroom game:
  • If you want to go for a technology-based approach Kahoot! will enable you to create a fun question and answer game with your own content. This adapts well for groupwork. You can create it in minutes and it’s totally free! Set the interactive games of your own design as homework and encourage your own group social media sharing and debate
  • If your Wi-Fi goes down it’s always a good idea to have a few non-tech games in your repertoire. Who Am I? is a really fun way to get your students thinking about what they’ve learned. Take the characters from your primary text and write their names on Post-It notes. Assign the Post-Its to the students. Without looking at the name they have to place the sticker on their forehead. They must then ask their partner a series of leading questions to find out the name on their forehead.
  • Story Train is a great way to harness student’s imaginations, to foster quick thinking, creativity and fun. You begin by writing one sentence at the top of a piece of paper. This will begin the story. You then fold the paper over to cover what you have written. With your class sat in a circle the paper is passed around and each student adds a sentence. Once their sentence is added they fold the paper over and pass it on. By the end you should have a weird and wonderful story. To ensure learning outcomes are met, it’s a good idea to give your students a theme, topic or even vocabulary that you’d like them to use in a sentence.
Have you got any more tips to help other teachers engage students in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below. 

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