By Teachers, For Teachers
It’s an exciting time in education, with new, innovative ways to teach and learn and technology at its best. Today’s teaching tools mean learning is better than it’s ever been before. From new teaching strategies to teaching with technology, today’s teachers have the opportunity to give their students a learning experience of a lifetime. Technology isn’t the only way that we have learned to keep our students engaged. With new groundbreaking research, we’ve learned that differentiating learning can make a huge impact on how our students learn. Through different teaching strategies like project-based learning and the flipped classroom, new techniques have changed the way teachers teach and learners learn. Here are a few more teaching strategies that are guaranteed to keep your students engaged.
The best part of science class is conducting fun experiments. Children love to work with their hands, and experiments are always a great way to get (and keep) your students involved in the lesson. Not to mention, when you work with your hands, it helps to keep you engaged. Choose a simple experiment where students can work on their own or with a partner. Science Kids has a vast library of unique experiments for kids. From learning how to blow up balloons with CO2 and making quicksand, to creating a tornado with soda bottles or floating eggs in the water, there’s always a fun experiment that will keep any child engaged.
Task cards are another useful tool to keep your students engaged. They can be used in a variety of ways and are usually used to review or reinforce a concept. They are also an effective alternative to worksheets. Teachers love to use them because they help students learn to be independent learners, while students love them because they’re more engaging than worksheets. A fun and engaging way to use task cards in your classroom is to play “Traveling task cards,” where students move around the room as they answer questions. To play, hand a task card to each student and have them read it silently to themselves. Then, on your command, have students walk to a designated answer station in the classroom to trade cards with a fellow student to see if they agree with their answer. Students will have so much fun they’ll forget they’re even learning.
Anything that involves movement will keep your students engaged in what they are doing. When students sit for too long, they can become extremely bored (and tired). To help get your students motivated to learn, get them on their feet by incorporating movement activities into your lessons. You can start by giving students a few brain breaks throughout the day that make them get out of their seats. Some favorite brain break activities include: Having students do a few yoga poses, playing follow the leader, dancing to music, or utilizing technology like going on Go Noddle, where students follow along with an app. As long as students are up and moving, they will be engaged and ready to learn.
Anytime you turn anything into a game, it is instantly more fun and engaging for students. Take a boring worksheet, for example: You can instantly turn it into a more engaging game by simply cutting the questions on the worksheet into strips. Once your worksheet is cut up, then all you have to do is divide students into small groups of five and assign each person a specific role for the game. For example, one student would read the question on their slip of paper to their group, while another one would paraphrase the question and a third student would answer the question. Then, student four would agree or disagree with the answer, while student five would place their strip of paper into the “Agree or disagree” pile. By simply turning your lesson into a game you’re keeping students engaged in a new and fun way.
Just like conducting experiments, teaching with task cards, incorporating movement, and turning your lessons into games, using hands-on learning is another great way to keep your students engaged in learning. Anytime you can take a lesson that makes students use their fine motor skills and explores their senses, you’ve created an engaging opportunity for your students. Hands-on learning refers to anything that requires your students to use their hands to learn. For example, if your students were learning about animals, then they can use their hands to create a model of a habitat where an animal lives, or they can sort related vocabulary words about the animal they are learning about. As long as they are using their hands to manipulate and learn, they are using the hands-on learning strategy to keep them engaged in what they are doing.
Children learn best when they are engaged in what they are learning. If that means that you need to incorporate movement or hands-on learning, then that’s what you have to do. As long as students are engaged and having fun, they will be learning.
How do you keep your students engaged in your classroom? Do you have any teaching strategies or activities that work well for your students? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.