Student engagement is a hot topic in education. Especially after a long holiday break or at the start of the school year after an even longer summer break, educators are continually looking for ways to keep their students interested in the current lesson or material.
Engagement affects every educator and every learner, no matter what grade level or education platform. You know yourself – maybe you’ve attended a recent professional development workshop or training session or can think back to your own school experiences – if you aren’t engaged, you become easily distracted, uninterested, and probably learn very little, if anything at all.
Piquing students’ curiosity, getting them interested, and holding that interest is what every educator strives towards. When students are engaged, they are motivated and open to learning. This can be a challenge, however, especially when it comes to young learners with a limited attention span of roughly five to fifteen minutes.
Here are six ideas you can use to keep students engaged throughout the school year.
- Connect with students: Take time each day to talk with individual students, ask questions, and listen to their stories and the way they communicate. Discuss common interests and shared experiences. Research shows that when a teacher and student feel connected, student performance improves.
- Lower the affective filter: Negative feelings like nervousness and embarrassment can impede learning. You can make learning a positive experience by creating a low-stress, supportive environment.
- Promote team work and peer support: Have students work together in small groups so they can help and learn from each other. Encourage them to provide praise or constructive feedback for each other or the rest of the class when appropriate.
- Make words and lessons meaningful: When reading with students, ask open-ended questions about the characters and events taking place in the story, and point to the text and pictures. This builds a meaningful understanding of the language, and children begin making connections between the text and their own individual lives. Let students know how a lesson might apply to themselves and to the real world; you can get ideas for this when you connect with individual students each day and learn about their life experiences.
- Get students moving: Nothing kills the motivation of little learners better than being stuck in a chair listening to a teacher drone on in the front of the classroom. Include daily action activities that get students out of their seats, allowing them to renew their energy, stay focused, and have fun.
- Build confidence: Provide positive feedback and praise for good work to make students feel comfortable, encourage participation, and boost self-confidence. Hearing this praise from a teacher as well as other students makes them feel good about themselves.
GrapeSEED keeps students engaged with consecutive two-to-three minute teacher/student shared activities, including songs, stories, chants, big books, poems, and action activities. Teachers can mix up the activities during a GrapeSEED lesson based on their students’ needs. Students have fun, stay engaged, and enjoy learning!