Sunday, December 9, 2012

4 Ways to Increase Engagment in the Classroom

Another great article found on Edumedic, written by a 5th grade teacher in Delaware. Though the examples may be elementary, the content is still useful for any grade level.  Keep reading to find out 4 ways you can increase engagment in your classroom.

1. Move
Get away from the front of the room! Get away from the teacher’s desk! I rarely stand in the front of my classroom. I am constantly moving. If you continue to stand in the front of the room, the Teacher’s Edition clasped tightly in your hand, and your voice drones on endlessly, what do you think the results are going to be?

Let the students know that you just might walk over to their desk and catch them texting, doodling, or daydreaming. When you are standing next to a student, there is a greater possibility that you will get their full attention. Give students the chance to get out of their seats. Movement does wonders for the brain! Our local Home Depot donated carpet squares, and my kids have the option to sit wherever they choose, as long as they are working.

2. Don't be Afraid to Make them Think
Raise your expectations about what your students are capable of! Tear yourself away from worksheets with 50 Math problems. The higher level students will finish in ten minutes, and the struggling students will become frustrated. I use material that involves problem solving techniques to supplement the Math curriculum. The lower end of Bloom’s is not where you want your class to function. A great tool I use in my classroom is the iPad app, Stick Pick. Stick Pick allows me to choose students randomly and it provides questions starters for students using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide. Create situations where your students create and design, and not only answer questions 1-5 in the textbook. Challenge them!

3. Real World Applications
Why am I learning this? “Because it is on the test” is not the best answer. Giving a student examples of when or how they might apply a skill in “real life”, makes it more meaningful. Real world interactions also increase the level of engagement. Edmodo and Skype in the Classroom are wonderful sites to make those connections. When we read a story about a marine biologist last year, I used my Twitter PLN to connect with a marine biologist and we Skyped with him. The students used the story as a base to create questions, and it was an amazing experience! The biologist brought the pages in the book to life!

4. Integrate Technology
Here’s the thing to remember though, it’s not about the technology. Develop an engaging lesson, and then enhance it through the use of technology. For example, I participated in the Global Read Aloud Project 2012. While reading the book, I integrated technology through a number of methods. We connected and collaborated with different classrooms using Edmodo, Twitter, and Skype. My students “talked” about the book, while I read, using Today’s Meet. They answered questions via Wallwisher.  They created virtual flyers protesting Ruby’s (an elephant), treatment in the circus and embedded them on their blogs. Integrating technology into a lesson or unit provides endless opportunities to engage!

Move, create critical thinkers, make real world connections, and incorporate technology as part of your classroom environment, and you should see your classroom come to life!

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