Students want the flexibility to learn at their own pace. However, they also want to feel the enthusiasm from the teacher for the material. If there’s no freedom, the students feel stifled, and if there’s too much freedom, the students feel untethered. To find a healthy balance, you have to foster a learning environment that’s both exciting and challenging. As we head into a new year, here are 5 practical tips for keeping your students engaged in 2019.
New technology is distracting when it’s not used in an intelligent way, but it is tremendously powerful as well. This year, we recommend adopting a new tech tool that encourages learning and playing. For language lessons, apps like Duolingo do an excellent job of applying elements of gameplay to the learning process. Other activities may lend themselves to a tablet or laptop, which makes learning more interactive. There are countless ways that you can employ technology in the classroom without derailing the lesson.
Many students learn best by doing (a.k.a. kinesthetic learning). To encourage self-guided study, you can ask students to teach a lesson to the entire class. This serves as a catalyst for students to soak up everything they can find on a given subject. Since it’s the student’s lesson, they’ll feel empowered to do the best job possible when sharing the material. It’s an extremely rewarding exercise that builds communication skills, encourages public speaking, and bonds the classroom together.
Gamification almost always makes learning easier and more fun. It motivates students to compete with each other for points or prizes, and the gameplay facilitates learning as well. Meanwhile, some games are structured in a cooperative fashion, where students work together to achieve a goal. This year, try to incorporate more games into your lessons!
When it comes to focusing attention, music can be a powerful tool. The right soundtrack can reduce stress levels, improve your mood, and activate both sides of your brain. This is great for memory retention and learning new concepts. We recommend playing pleasant instrumental music when students are performing an activity or finishing a worksheet. Classical, ambient, and smooth jazz music are all excellent choices.
Finally, a vigorous class debate can always get students passionate about a subject. Debates require students to consider their own beliefs, listen to alternative viewpoints, and learn something new in the process. This year, you can try a biweekly or monthly debate with a specific topic that students care about. Perhaps you can start with a fairly simple question, like “Are school uniforms good or bad?” Then, you can assign half of the class to each side of the debate. At the conclusion, take a poll to find out which students changed their minds, and ask them why.
At GraduationSource, we believe that passionate students are much more likely to learn and grow. Visit our blog for more educational resources and lesson planning tips.