As teachers, we are always looking for ways to optimise the learning for our students, whilst also taking little extra preparation time.
Simple, effective ways to engage your students that won’t require any extra work for you!
Interactive teaching techniques have been shown over and over to be the most effective ways to engage students as well as increase learning outcomes.
These are some easy ways to increase student engagement in your class without having to spend extra hours preparing.
1. Peer teaching.
Students can often learn more easily from each other than from adults so use a variety of combinations for students to be the expert.
After you have given your lesson instruction, allow students who feel capable to assist those who need additional help. The best way to embed any learning is to teach someone else.
Ensure that all students have the opportunity to be the ‘expert’ at something in which they are interested.
You may be surprised at what your students can teach you if you give them the chance!
2. Body voting.
Make statements or ask questions that students have to move to answer.
For example, give them 2 possible responses to a question: no or yes and they move to a part of the room to indicate their response. Call on various students to justify their position.
You can also give them a choice of four responses to a contentious statement: agree, strongly agree, disagree, strongly disagree.
In another variation, students can stand on a continuum to indicate their level of participation or agreement with a particular activity. Getting students to move increases blood flow to the brain keeping it engaged and active.
Use mini-whiteboards to check in with student understanding as you teach. Mini-whiteboards or response cards give students a simple way to let you know if they are following your instruction or not.
It is also a low stress way for students to respond because if they are incorrect they can rub it out straight away.
Mini-whiteboards are great for kids who refuse to write because they know that whatever they write is temporary which helps to reduce anxiety about whether or not they are correct.
This method gives you immediate feedback on whether students are understanding the work.
4. Team Teach.
If you and a colleague are teaching the same or related topics consider teaching together so that you maximise your strengths.
Each of you can provide instruction in the areas you feel most confident, and you can offer small group assistance to students who need additional instruction as well as extension work for those who catch on more quickly.
Look at dividing the class into groups according to interest, past experiences, prior learning and background. You could also allow students to self-select the groups they join.
5. Do Now.
When students come to your class either from another class or from the playground have a settling activity ready for them as soon as they enter the room.
This avoids the time wasting that can happen if you wait for the stragglers and also gives students who are in the room something to focus on rather than random chatting or becoming distracted or disruptive.
Your settling activity can be very simple such as making words out of given letters, answering 5 quick quiz questions or writing 5 guesses for what the next class topic will be.
Make the Do Now activities interesting, slightly challenging with a high degree of built-in success.
There are many ways to increase student engagement and consequently student achievement, what are your favourites?