39 ways to keep students engaged with collaboration tools..

DisplayNoteBlog May 22, 2017

I asked a whole bunch of teachers of all shapes, sizes, varieties and levels about what they do to keep students engaged. So in no particular order, here they are.

  • Firstly if you’re asking questions, you should pick random volunteers to keep the pupils wondering who you’re going to ask next.
  • How you actually present the topic needs to be interesting, keep them guessing. e.g. do a starter bit not necessarily say ‘today we are learning about samba’.
  • Make them lead. If it’s a class discussion or performance make them feel they are directing it. Be the conductor.
  • Ask them for suggestions to improve or change the work so they take ownership of it and feel like it’s theirs.
  • Give thematic goal to work towards. For example, i will say “we have a concert & our head teacher will come to class to hear.
  • Ultimately I get the bad students on board even before class so once they’re on task & engaged everyone follows.
  • Or praise like mental (heaps lots of praise) the ones that are engaged & taking part then if others, who weren’t previously really that engaged, even think of showing interest give them just as much praise to make them feel involved.
  • Stimulating starter for the lesson – 5 mins for the students to get their brains in gear.
  • Short tasks – no more than 10 mins as they soon lose interest.
  • Making sure work is at their level – anything too easy/too hard they’ll lose interest.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the course of a lesson – if they’re losing interest get them back on track with a different activity or short brain game.
  • Knowing their boundaries – students know your expectations in the classroom and are motivated by positive behaviour management (i.e. awarding points, Verbal praise, commendations etc).
  • Have and interesting opening gambit.
  • Friendly but firm.
  • Be Honest.
  • Maintain eye contact with as many as possible within the group.
  • Make use of the students input.
  • I’d avoid over use of PowerPoint. Kids are bombarded with presentations daily. So unless they are REALLY STIMULATING I’d avoid them.
  • Role play is a good way of getting your ideas across. Play the Devil’s advocate by adopting an unreasonable stance.
  • Be imaginative. If you think it’s imaginative then they most likely will too.
  • Pitch the task or lesson at the right level for the class but also the student. Too easy they will disengage or too hard…same result.
  • Lessons must involve the kids no longer chalk and talk, must be interactive. Set a task and let them at it… then evaluate success, correct errors and move on bit by bit.
  • Use modern technology, this is a big help: interactive whiteboards, podcasts, blogs, virtual learning environments, internet etc…For me, that gets kids involved, not just sitting down all day. Get them up to the interactive whiteboard and use the pen to answer questions, use web pages and set interactive homework.
  • Most important: Build a relationship with the students.
  • Consider seating, i.e. How you seat the kids in relation to other pupils. Some need to be separated and often gender mix helps.
  • Don’t ramble. Attention spans are getting shorter so everything must be interesting but not long winded.
  • Praise and reward. Praise and reward.
  • Stickers, stickers, stickers! I usually tell them at the start that there will be stickers for best listener so they best try to stay on task etc. When my dudes get 5 in a row then they get extra play.
  • Ensure there’s a practical element to the lesson.
  • Timers, countdown clocks, either on IWB or real ones.
  • In my classroom, we have a visual timetable so that they will always know what’s happening. For ASD children we use a first/ then card.
  • Doing things where you aren’t supposed to like maths in the PE hall or literacy outside.
  • We would often do almost a wee game at the start of a long listening session. A bit like Simon says. Eg. Children will “give me five”Eyes looking
    Ears listening
    Lips closed
    Hands still
    Brains ready!
  • Eyes looking
  • Ears listening
  • Lips closed
  • Hands still
  • Brains ready!
  • Use contemporary materials where relevant (in music I’d be talking about using a current pop song to relate chord structure).
  • Vary the type of learning skill; aural, visual and kinesthetic learning (again this would be in music I’d use an auditory example of a piece, with an overhead explaining what I’m talking about, and then getting the pupils to put it into practice) – The DisplayNote App can help tremendously with this.
  • Peer teaching and learning i.e. the pupils who have got a good grasp of a concept would be paired with one that are struggling.
  • Differentiation; tailor the materials to the individual’s ability, special educational needs must cater to the gifted as well as those who need extra help.
  • Active learning in every lesson plan. For example, at the minute my Year 10s are doing advertising and part of the work involves them taking part in an advertising agency simulation where they take on different roles.

Next Steps…

For further information on engaging students using technology why not register to attend one of our weekly webinars on the DisplayNote app.


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