Nothing is worse than the boredom that can come from perpetual monotony. When students feel like they’ve entered such a cycle, they are likely to meet said activities and assignments with an equally boring and monotonous surge of effort. In other words, the interest level isn’t piqued, so the effort and takeaway levels won’t amount to much either. By increasing the engagement factor, teachers will likely see an increase in the growth and mastery levels of students. These 5 strategies are sure to pique some interest in any area of study.
- Personalize It– This doesn’t involve breaking out the monogramming kit, but it does involve possibly breaking away from some of the planning choices that may have been used with previous groups. What are the current interests of students, and how can they be incorporated into the topics being covered? What strengths can students utilize when presenting and showcasing their learning? Teachers need to be willing to embrace the new and offer students more than a singular option in both learning paths and demonstration of growth and mastery. While a true personalized learning classroom would be ideal, acknowledging and incorporating personal strengths and interests will also go a long way toward increasing engagement.
- Revamp the Space– The appearance and layout of the learning environment can play a huge role in engaging students in the activities that occur there. Make some changes to the learning space in color, design, and/or functionality. Sometimes just putting needed resources in more accessible locations can make all the difference. When students have a clear understanding of all of the nuances of the areas within the classroom environment, they will be more likely to respect the spaces and capitalize on the usage of the resources provided.
- Toss in Some Tech– One would be hard-pressed to find a student that doesn’t get a little glimmer in the eye when a tech component is added to the mix. Whether it’s the chance to utilize a new device/gadget, sharpen skills on an app, format a presentation in a unique program, or use the web as a resource for deepening their understanding of a concept or idea, students are eager to power up their learning. By no means should this equate to technology simply for technology’s sake, but finding a positive balance with purposeful technological resources that enhance the learning is an excellent way to boost engagement. Our Fabulous Freebies and 5 under $5 series make great starting points for locating educational apps.
- Turn to the Experts– Look for engaging ways to share content with students via outside persons. This could be a guest speaker, a Skype session, an expert chat forum, etc. Helping students see the people that actually use the content on a daily basis will make it more real. TED Talks or online interviews are also great resources for bringing in unique perspectives from passionate professionals.
- Dive in the Trenches– This is a twofold element. Have students dive in by being active and possibly even getting their hands dirty. Active learning is just by nature more engaging. When they can tinker, construct, and manipulate tangible objects and operations, more of their entire being is involved which leads to increased engagement. The second element of diving into the trenches is having teachers dive in there too. When teachers display some vulnerability by become learners and doers alongside their students, it deepens the relationship and comradery within the overall learning environment.
There’s no magical formula for engaging all students in learning. There are lots of options out there for trying to find the perfect variables though. By remaining open to possibilities and trying out any or all of the 5 strategies shared here, teachers and students can experience renewed or simply new levels of engagement as they traverse their learning journeys.