As you can probably guess, there’s no one way to connect to a student as a teacher. Luckily, Lynn of TiePlay Educational Resources sat down to write about some of the ways you can engage effectively with students in the classroom. Here’s Lynn:
“Hello class….And now for today’s lecture on….”
Remember hearing this in grade school? Well, those words are still being said by educators, with mixed results.
For the last decade and a half, teachers have been required to focus on student objectives in the classroom almost immediately because of time constraints and the amount of material that students must learn each day.
But does the lecture format alone really help students learn effectively?
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
― Margaret Mead
Research findings indicate that the lecture format of yesteryear doesn’t do enough to motivate most students to learn. Kids need to become a real part of the learning exercise. But, just how does a teacher include students with so many facts to relay each day?
10 ideas for involving your students in the classroom this year
- Thumbs up/thumbs down or otherwise
Instead of just having individuals respond verbally, encourage students express how they feel non-verbally or with one to two word expressions. Have students sign, or do other movements to show agreement or disagreement.
Bring in set designs, act a part, portray a famous person. One social studies teacher had fake Greek columns placed in her classroom during ancient studies. Another non-music teacher brought in her guitar and felt it helped to soothe her students during short breaks. A teacher might even wear a costume, bring in props, instruments and play music of an era.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ― Mark Twain. Tell jokes, bring in a comic strip series or share funny sayings that relate to your topic. Have students locate appropriate jokes, too.
- Quick Writes
To encourage broader participation, have students respond to a short question by writing an answer down and then sharing with a small group, partner or class.
- Role play
Students can creatively display knowledge in small groups for 10 minute sessions. For example, if they are studying George Washington in U.S. History, a great way to kick off the day could be getting groups together with a prompt: “What might George Washington say about this political situation today?”
This one is great for your science classes. Have students express a hypothesis by “betting” on an outcome. “I think this combination of materials might ignite…. What do you think?” Two groups might decide “yay or nay” on an experiment or outcome, or give thoughts as to what might happen.
- Down the rabbit hole
Find out your students’ specific interest on a subject and spend some time focusing on it. “Let’s focus the next ten minutes on The Pygmys of Africa and Survival Skills in the Desert”.
- Communicate Concerns Frequently
Students need to feel acknowledged, at ease and cheered on to success. Student-teacher relationships have an intensive impact on how well kids are motivated to learn. Teachers who demonstrate an I care attitude actually promote student achievement. Recognizing a student’s state of mind is easy with comments like, “We are glad you are back, are you feeling better?” or “Remember to see me for help here at 3:30 p.m. today.”
- Teacher Assistant
Select a few students to condense the last lecture an review key points before the next lesson. Switch off and on with various students. More reserved students might write an outline on the white board.
- Game-like Activities
Playing learning games help to engage students because of the psychological principle of clozentropy. Clozenropy involves missing ideas and a person’s curiosity to solve the “puzzle”. My Teachers Notebook store offers a variety of learning games, learning game boards, character education and other great products to explore clozentropy.
Teachers, I am so thrilled to share some ideas for your classroom this year. If you try an idea or two, please let me know it worked for you. If you’re already doing one or more of these ideas, share how it’s working.
Have a terrific school year!
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (1995). Strengthening student engagement. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept95/vol53/num01/Strengthening-Student-Engagement@-What-Do-Students-Want.aspx
Bonwell, C.C. (2000). Active learning: creating excitement in the classroom. Retrieved from
Good Reads, Inc. (2017). Margaret Mead. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/education
Good Reads, Inc. (2017).Mark Twain. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/education
Jabon, J.R., Wilkinson, M. (2006) Using engagement strategies to facilitate children’s learning and success. Retrieved from
Marzano Research. (2017). Tips from Dr. Marzano. Retrieved from httpd://www.marzanoresearch.com/resources/