Tired of the same old lesson plans day after day? If you’re getting bored, your students are likely bored as well. It might be time to try some new methods to help your students become more engaged. There are many tools teachers can use including: incorporating technology and games, using learning stations, getting outside, giving students a choice in classroom activities and partners, and more. The more engaged students are, the more likely they will be to absorb and process the information presented in class.
Students will have more fun and be more engaged if you offer them some choices in the classroom. Let students make decisions about their way of learning. For example, when reviewing new vocabulary, offer students different ways they can practice the vocabulary.
They can create paper flashcards or online flashcards. They can draw the vocab words, act them out, write a story with the words, create a crossword puzzle with clues, or even create a video where they demonstrate the new vocabulary words.
In certain classes, students might be able to choose their topics or their projects (or both.) In science classes, students can pick a biome and present it via video, presentation, research paper, or artistic representation. In math classes, students can choose a real-life mathematical issue to solve and work through the math to solve it. In language arts classes, students will enjoy choosing their own books to read or selecting a topic for an essay or speech.
Students have more fun and are more engaged in learning when they are physically involved. Make a teaching goal that students will never be sitting still for the entire class from bell-to-bell.
One way to get students moving is to have students move to different corners of the room during a discussion. Label each corner of the room with a guiding factor such as “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree.” Students can talk with the other students in their corner and then present their arguments to the class.
Some classrooms set up systems so students can have multiple partners and groups that students rotate throughout the class. Some teachers use “clock partners” or some similar pairings. These methods make it easy for students to keep track of where they are heading in each activity. It also keeps them moving and engaged as they are consistently working with different people in different areas of the classroom.
There are also teachers who use time in class to specifically devote to movement. They provide movement breaks where students are encouraged to stand, stretch, or even do a yoga pose. By allowing this minute or two of movement, students will be more likely to stay awake and engaged during the class period.
Learning stations provide students with variety, movement, and choice—three engaging and fun factors.
To create learning stations, set up the classroom with a variety of activities. Students can rotate throughout the room and participate at each station. Some teachers prefer to time the students and make them visit all stations. Other teachers prefer to let the students spend as much time as they want or need at any given station.
Each learning station should offer something geared toward the learning objective but in a different format. One station could be art-based (sculpting something out of clay or drawing a picture to show comprehension.) Another station could be a writing or reflection station where students can journal their thoughts. There could also be a station where students watch a short video and show what they’ve learned from the video clip.
Students will be more engaged if you change the scenery in the learning environment. Whenever possible, teachers can take the students outside. They can read, write, explore a science topic, and more all while engaging with the nature surrounding the school.
If going outside isn’t possible, check to see if the gym is available. If you are doing experiments that need to be done on a large scale, see if you can get the gymnasium for the day so students can learn physics and other science concepts that can be demonstrated in a big environment.
If possible, students can benefit from a trip to a cooking lab or cafeteria. When learning about different cultures, students can cook something from another country. When learning measurements, students can follow a simple recipe.
We all live in a technological world. Our students love to use their devices and computers. They enjoy their tech time, and this passion crosses over into the classroom. When technology is used in the classroom, many students are more engaged and inspired to learn.
Teachers can introduce new information on a projected screen using a Powerpoint or Google Slides presentation with images. Teachers can also project educational Youtube videos that demonstrate important concepts for the students. Students tend to be more drawn to the images and videos on the screen compared to traditional packets of information.
There are numerous online programs students can use to learn, review, and test their knowledge. If possible, allow time to use programs like Quizlet which has free online flashcards, games, and sample tests. Many of these programs have students answer questions and get immediate feedback. This helps the student know immediately if he is on the right track.
Most students love friendly competition. Playing games in class is fun for them, and also it can be very engaging and educational. There are many options for ways to play games in class. Students can play Bingo with any vocabulary by writing in the words on Bingo cards and the teacher reading the definition of the words. Students cover the word that matches the given definition. In younger grades, bingo can be used to study and identify numbers.
The internet offers several options for interactive educational games. Websites such as Quizlet Live and Kahoot keep students involved in learning. Students can use these free sites to review material by playing competitive games in a fun, engaging way.
While not every lesson has to be fun, it is often easier to engage students when there is some novelty and excitement to the lesson. By incorporating a few of these ideas in the classroom, students are more likely to be interested in and more actively involved in the learning process.
All students learn differently. The more diverse the classroom, the more diverse our teaching methods need to be. It is always important to offer different strategies to benefit students’ individual styles and preferences. By varying the choices in methods and assignments, students can pick a path where they can be most successful and feel most engaged in the learning process.