3 Engaging Activities That You Can Utilize Today

Being able to keep your students engaged is going to be a different challenge you face everyday. There are simple changes you can make to all aspects of your teaching that can easily get students more engaged. Learning is something that should be fun and wanted. When students are unengaged in learning they don't retain much information. Implement these three activities into your lesson plan and engage your students immediately.   

1. The Gallery Walk 

Not a single student looks forward to presentation day. This largely comes from the nerves that go along with having to present, but the main reason is because of everyone else that is presenting. Students dread having to sit in class listening to their classmates present over and over again. To enhance engagement when it comes to student presentations, try the Gallery Walk. Here's how it works: 

  • Instead of the entire class enduring one presentation at a time, multiple, smaller presentations will be happening simultaneously.
  • Arrange your classroom in a way so that students have places to set up their presentations and they can easily walk around the classroom.  
  • Students will play the roles of curator (presenter) and visitor. 
  • Each exhibit stop will be timed. The curator presents for two minutes and then visitors ask questions and record reflections for the remaining minute.
  • At the conclusion of the exhibit circuit the entire class convenes for debriefing. 

2. The First Five

The first five to ten minutes of a class set the tone for the entire duration. It is crucial that students are engaged in these first five minutes to keep them engaged for the rest of class. 

An engaging first five doesn’t have to be an academic challenge. It’s an amazing opportunity for bonding with students. Engage them with stories. These stories could be personal, humorous, interesting, or inspirational. They could be about you, something you witnessed, something you read, or saw on TV. Get your students talking. When students are engaged in discussion they are actively listening and engaged in their learning. 

If you are convinced the first five minutes of your class should be academic James Sturtevant offers some creative first fives that are academically present and keep students engaged. 

  • If you teach English, write a wordy paragraph, distribute it to students, and direct them to eliminate as many words as possible while maintaining the paragraph’s flow and meaning.
  • If you teach social studies, challenge kids to find an online, original source about the day’s lesson.
  • If you teach biology, have students take their pulse. Prompt them to quickly research healthy heart rate ranges. Ask them to take it again. If it has changed, challenge them to speculate why.

When you are able to engage your students within the first five minutes of your class, you will create a productive working environment for students to thrive in for the duration of class. 

3. No Instructions Needed

Many teachers still embrace the classic stand-and-deliver method of teaching. By default, we want to elaborate and make sure we’re completely understood. But these very tendencies may be robbing kids of valuable learning opportunities. Over explaining can make a task too simple and not valuable to students, but giving students minimal instructions gives them to opportunity to problem solve and explore different solutions. 

Come into class one day with a provocative prompt. This is your essential question or questions. Give students very brief instructions by saying something like, "Answer these questions and present them in any way you see fit." Don't elaborate. Allow students to be creative and challenge them to come up with their own solutions. Because there was no set instructions on how to finish the assignment, this is the perfect activity to encourage students to evaluate the work of their peers.

At the end of class debrief with your students. What did they come up with? How did they manage the lack of direction? Did they learn anything about themselves or their capabilities while doing their assignment? Work with your students to find a balance between instruction giving and students working to keep your students engaged and excited to learn. 

These lesson ideas were excerpted from Hacking Engagement AgainRead further details about these lessons and activities and 47 more from the student engagement expert, James Sturtevant

Student engagement is an important goal for all educators. By creating a positive and supportive learning environment, providing engaging and relevant instruction, and understanding the needs of each individual student, educators can help all students reach their full potential. Utilize these lesson ideas and others like them to make your run of the mill classroom one where all students are actively participating and engaged. 

Main post image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

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