When student engagement is going downhill, we often find ourselves reaching for the prop box.
We pull out random videos, time-sucking resources, overly complex activities… anything to get and keep attention.
But even these can’t compete with our students’ pen tricks, doodling, and discussions of what happened at recess. And there’s a simple reason why: Our students aren’t engaged by things. They’re engaged by us.That’s why the best (and easiest) ways to increase student engagement come from you.
Connect learning to the real world
We’ve all heard it before: “When am I ever going to use this?” Answer this question and you’ll engage students with content that they know is relevant to life beyond school. Use anecdotes, case studies, and real-life examples from outside the classroom to root your teaching in “the real world”.
Engage with your students’ interests
Find out what already engages your students and build it into the learning process.
Using mathematics as an example, you could have students chart their performance in a video game over the week. You might even get your budding social media influencers to calculate a projected number of Instagram followers.
Learning what excites your students does more than just engage them. You’ll build strong relationships and rapport, too.
Encourage students to present and share work regularly
Giving students a regular opportunity to share their thoughts and demonstrate learning in front of their peers drives engagement in two ways:
- it makes students accountable
- it lets them hear from someone other than their teacher.
If your students quiver in fear at the thought of speaking in front of the class, combine presentations with group work. A few ideas:
- Have students present in groups after a group task.
- Let students share each other’s work within smaller groups before asking them to choose one piece to share with the rest of the class.
- Let students read or present their work while sitting down. It avoids the pressure of having to “stand and deliver”.
- Ask for one contribution from each group after discussion, with each group nominating a “spokesperson”.
Above all else, make presenting and sharing a regular part of class activity. Your class will become an equitable and engaging space that echoes with the voice of every student, not just your own!
Give your students a say
If you don’t know how to engage your students, let them tell you! Give your students a say in classroom activity by:
- providing a choice of different activities (e.g. group work or solo)
- seeking student input for assessment design (e.g. students can choose a final product, provided it meets the criteria)
- periodic check-ins to monitor the pace of delivery (e.g. “do we need to go over this a bit more slowly or are we feeling pretty confident?”).
Giving students a choice also fosters their sense of ownership over their learning. They’ll move from passive consumers to active learners with a stake in classroom activity.
Ask good questions
Ask good questions of your students and you’ll drive rich, engaging discussions that are open to everyone.
Good questions should be:
- open-ended: to avoid “yes/no” answers
- equitable: open to answers of varying depth and complexity
- legitimate: asked because you want to hear students’ thoughts and opinions, not because you’re fishing for a correct answer.
When students answer a question, engage with their response. Even if it’s incorrect or misinformed, recognize their effort and use it to refine the question further (e.g. “you’re on the right track, but could we also think about…”).
Use mixed media
Present learning content in a variety of mediums, including video, audio, and digital resources. Using such tech-rich resources is engaging for two reasons. It’s a welcome change from the stacks of paper our students are usually saddled with, and it establishes a direct and relevant connection with the digital world they inhabit.
When student use Sunvote student response system, it will help teacher to know about the thinking and worrying of student. Make student engage in classroom itself. It is a good tool not only for student but for teacher.