Personalized instruction is a topic that raises many questions. Today we are seeing the..
A productive school year happens when teachers employ competent planning and effective classroom management techniques. In doing so, they create the classrooms in which students thrive. How can we ensure we’re keeping learners engaged within these classrooms?
The Glossary of Education Reform calls engagement the degree of attention, curiosity, optimism, interest and passion that students demonstrate when learning or being taught. These in turn influence the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.
This concept is based on the belief that students learn best when they are interested, inquisitive or inspired. Consequently student learning and performance will suffer when students are bored or disengaged.
Concepts, mandated curriculum, and state standards may be set in your school and you may feel like your hands are tied sometimes. Nevertheless, teachers can still influence the delivery of the material and provide lessons that speak to their learners’ interests and learning styles.
Here are some thoughts on how to ensure you're keeping learners engaged in any class.
8 Simple Ways of Keeping Learners Engaged
- Allow students guided options in how they would like to learn the material
- Let them choose how to demonstrate what they learned
- Get them thinking
- Create an environment that allows exploration and multiple “right” choices
- Offer school advisories and peer mentoring
- Create a positive emotional climate
- Build routines and cues into your classroom
- Incorporate movement into activities
Without a doubt, kids are the toughest audience you'll ever have. Nevertheless, keeping your students' attention doesn't need to be a chore.
The strategies you'll learn about below are part of the 10 shifts of practice of future-focused learning. Consider them mini-shifts you can incorporate right now to ensure you're keeping learners engaged.
1. Allow students guided options in how they would like to learn the material.
Give them more say in choosing a topic to investigate and write about. For example, let them collaborate on Pinterest boards to organize, comment, and share materials. Sign up to Melissa Hiltner’s Pinterest board for some fresh ideas. From there you can make and manage your own grade-wide board in collaboration with fellow teachers and parents.
2. Let them choose how to demonstrate what they learned.
Multimedia presentations, such as using audio and video, can help with keeping students engaged through use of creativity. Let them demonstrate concepts by tying in today’s technology in the classroom to content and lessons in ways that are relevant and interesting to them. You can even explore how to empty pecha kucha techniques to make digital presentations more effective.
3. Get them thinking.
You can always succeed with keeping learners engaged by giving them challenging problems to solve. Describe a relevant real-world problem they must then investigate in order to develop a workable solution. Another exercise that works is to have them create physical prototypes to solve a problem through functional application.
4. Create an environment that allows exploration and multiple “right” choices.
Students should not have to feel penalized for making a mistake. Instead they must be motivated to eliminate one more way that doesn’t work in the quest to find a solution. Scholastic helps to get teachers in the mindset of exploring possibilities in search of a solution.
5. Offer school advisories and peer mentoring.
These are ways to promote positive social engagement and create an environment that is more welcoming to those with different abilities and backgrounds.
6. Create a positive emotional climate.
Ask about your learners’ feelings as they reflect upon a project, or an important topic such as bullying. In addition, be open and available to them if they should seek the advice of an adult on something more personal.
Many students have no one to talk to about troubling personal or family problems. When troubled, kids are more prone to misbehave and less able to concentrate, and it can be a struggle keeping learners engaged in such cases. Teachers and counsellors are important individuals in helping children handle such situations.
7. Build routines and cues into your classroom.
A classroom routine creates the necessary structure that supports child development and offers a sense of comfort for younger students. As such, they know what to expect next, which is important when students come from disadvantaged or ever-changing backgrounds. Cues and games help to refocus a classroom when attention drifts away.
8. Incorporate movement into activities.
Getting up and getting the blood flowing is a nice way for children to use movement and hands-on learning, and expend a little energy. For optimum health, adults need to change positions and activities frequently within the day. Why wouldn’t children have similar needs?
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Nov 23, 2018, updated October 8, 2021