Creating an engaging learning environment that motivates and stimulates students to participate in classroom learning is a challenge for any teacher. All teachers find it rewarding when their students are focused and interested in the subjects they teach.
There are several ways to engage student learning in the classroom and make it a more interesting and beneficial place for the teaching process. Keep reading to discover different ways to increase student engagement.
Why is it important to engage students at school?
Having engaged students in class has many benefits. It promotes personal development, helps overcome shyness with peers, improves class dynamics, builds self-confidence and helps students learn. Also, it creates a nice teaching environment for the teacher, because there is nothing nicer than engaged and motivated students.
11 effective strategies to engage students in class
Here are some strategies and ideas that teachers can incorporate in the classroom to promote active student participation and engage them in their learning process.
1. Include learning games in the classroom
Everyone likes to play, not only in kindergarten, but also in middle school and high school. Games are a classic way of stimulating students’ thoughts and engaging them in current topics. Academic puzzles, science toys (plant test tubes or microscopes) and immersive platforms that challenge thoughts in any way are all great alternatives.
2. Connect the content to the students’ lives
Learning materials directly related to students’ lives tend to have the greatest impact. If at any point you find that student attention is reduced or they don’t seem to understand what you’re talking about, you can try using real life examples. This way, they can easily link what they are learning with their daily lives and experiences.
3. Use technology
Technology always arouses widespread interest. Kids like being able to experiment with devices like tablets, cell phones, and computers and it helps them stay focused on something. Technology and videos used in a moderate way are a great tool to get students interested in different subjects.
4. Give students options to choose from
When students actively participate in decision-making, they feel appreciated and excited. No matter how old they are, they always have ideas that can help improve the learning environment and make learning more enjoyable. If you give them the possibility to choose between several activities, they will be more interested and attentive.
5. Incorporate a sense of mystery for students to participate in the classroom
A good idea is to find a way to create suspense before displaying content. For example, you can give students clues for the next lesson and talk about how much fun it will be without saying what the content is. This often improves the classroom atmosphere and the participation of students.
6. Encourage active class participation
Teachers should invite students to participate in class, share their opinion, carry out dialogues or debates and promote communication between teachers and students. Active participation in the classroom helps improve critical thinking skills. Plus, students that participate in class usually know the material well enough to share their knowledge with their classmates. This can also improve memory in students.
7. Communicate frequently with family members
It’s important to share the teaching methods you use with students with families so they have the tools to help them complete assignments at home. This allows parents to understand the schedule and activities of their children and complement their learning process at home. This helps students take on greater responsibilities, stay motivated, and strive to be the best version of themselves.
8. Apply problem-based learning
In this method, students investigate, discuss and propose solutions to problems to create simulation scenarios and analyze the possible consequences. In this way, students are motivated to participate in meaningful scenarios that facilitate the connection between classroom topics and reality.
For this technique to work, teachers must design a problem that integrates objectives of one or more subjects, then form work teams and assign roles so that information is analyzed and an alternative solution is developed. Finally, a solution must be chosen and tested by simulating alternative solutions and drawing conclusions.
9. Build an indoor hydroponic garden
A hydroponic garden is a great tool to engage students in learning new things while keeping them entertained.
What will the children learn?
- Plant life cycle: From germination, seedlings and vegetative growth to harvest, they will be able to trace the entire life cycle of the plant.
- Plant needs: Thanks to hydroponics, students will learn that soil is not always essential for plant growth. Due to good nutrition, water and light, children will learn how hydroponic plants grow.
- Depending on the objective of your hydroponic garden project and the subject being taught, children can learn an array of things: nutrition, environmental stewardship, agronomic and science, healthy and self care habits, etc.
Food will no longer just be something that appears in the kitchen, students will grow their own vegetables and understand what happens before food reaches their plate. It’s also a great project to put in action many of the strategies to engage students in the classroom.
Integrating a hydroponic garden is a stimulating project that promotes learning in a fun way as well as the acquisition of essential life skills. Urban agriculture in schools is an initiator of various types of projects and responds to needs that are in tune with current environmental concerns.
10. Encourage the use of learning strategies
Learning strategies are the psychological processes that students use to learn in a meaningful way. They are used primarily for learning and problem solving purposes. Some examples of these can be: keywords, rhymes, mental images, paraphrasing, reasoning, summary, analogy, concept elaboration, use of categories, semantic networks or concept maps.
Teachers can promote the use of learning strategies among students to encourage them to actively participate in their own learning and gain greater autonomy.
11. Use metacognition strategies
Children do not all learn the same way, so they are usually not all stimulated in the same way. That is why it is important for teachers to leverage different learning strategies. Moreover, sometimes students are not even aware of their own learning method. To give them tools for the rest of their lives, it is interesting to familiarize them with the concept of metacognition.
What is metacognition?
Metacognition is the ability to be aware of and adapt to one’s own learning process. Here are some benefits of promoting metacognition for students:
- It helps them continue learning throughout their lives
- It facilitates the structuring of learning
- It enhances skill development
- It helps develop problem solving skills
- It promotes meaningful learning
One way that teachers can promote metacognition is by prompting students to question what they think they know. Some examples of questions to ask include:
- What have you done or learned today?
- How did you learn it?
- What difficulties did you encounter?
- How has it been useful for you?
- In other situations, can you continue to use what you have done or learned?
- What do you think of what you said?
- How much do you agree or disagree?
- What else can you add to the solution?
- How can you convince us that your opinion is the most appropriate?
- How would you argue against your point of view?
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