Practical Tips to Harness the Power of Student Engagement
By: Kimberly Monachino
We hear the term student engagement quite a bit, but what does that mean in the classroom and how is it done? Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism and passion students show when they are learning or being taught. This extends to their levels of motivation to learn and progress in their education. To create high levels of student engagement, teachers craft lessons that focus on student-driven inquiry and create learning environments that challenge students to actively research, investigate and collaborate. Students have multiple options to demonstrate their mastery of both content and skills. Simply stated: the students are actively participating in their learning, not passive bystanders.
As Benjamin Franklin stated, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote speaks to the power of student engagement. We know that the more students are engaged, the more learning occurs. So, how do we create classrooms with high levels of student engagement?
Here are several ways to increase the amount of time students are engaged.
- Make the lesson meaningful and real. Have the students incorporate their experiences, interests and knowledge.
- Give students choice. Empower the students to make choices on their assignments (for example, tic-tac-toe style boards that offer choices of activities).
- Use the 10:2 method. For every 10 minutes of instruction, allow the students two minutes to process and respond to the instruction or reading material. This can be done in various ways: have them write about what they learned or read, have them ask or write down questions they have about what they read or learned, or have students discuss the lesson or reading material with partners.
- Incorporate movement into your lessons. Require students to respond to a question about a reading passage or lesson by moving to a certain spot in the room, writing on whiteboards or standing (or sitting) when they are done thinking about the question.
- Embrace collaborative learning. By teaching students to work together, they learn how to problem-solve, think critically, improve social interactions and develop communication skills.
- Allow students five to seven seconds of ‘think time’ when asking a question about a story or reading passage. At the end of the time, draw a random name to answer the question.
- At the end of a lesson, have students use the 3-2-1 method of summarizing. In this method, students record three things they learned, two interesting things and one question they have about what was taught or read. Allow time for them to share their findings with peers.
- Take a moment to pause. Periodically pause mid-sentence when teaching and require students to fill in the blanks.
- Establish positive teacher-student relationships. Students need to feel safe in their classrooms. They need to know they can take risks and make mistakes in their learning.
- Remember your role as a teacher. Remember that the goal of engagement in the classroom is to change from being a teacher who is the sage on the stage to one who is the guide on the side.
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