We keep our lessons engaging by being interested and passionate about what we are teaching. I know there are times I have had no motivation to teach certain concepts and it shows in both my performance and my students’ performance. First and foremost, we need to find passion for what we are doing.
Then we can plan to teach. According to Ann Grazin in her article Engaging Students: Keep Them on the Edge of Their Seats she believes you can engage students by: striking a balance, setting rules from the start, being consistent, staying calm, setting up a functional classroom, and seeking outside help when needed. I also agree, but when thinking of engaging students I was thinking in terms of a current lesson. I think that sometimes we forget to have these classroom management skills, which are integral to ensuring students are learning. I was glad I came across this article.
When planning lessons I think about: what do I need to teach, how will I teach it, and how will I assess students? After, I have done that I think about how can I engage students so they will LEARN. If I don’t engage students I am pointlessly rambling in the front of the classroom to students who really do not care about what I have to say. My 3 basics fit within the article Ten Tips for Engaging Underperforming Students by Mariko Nobori. I also agree with Nobori that in planning engaging lessons the essential question is important. Nobori has the Essential Question listed as the first tip in planning. I am learning that the essential questions are critical. However there are always those lessons that are hard to fake the enthusiasm even with essential questions just because we as teachers lack enthusiasm for it.
How can we do that when some things just are not that interesting to us? Sometimes, I take a deep breath and try to tackle teaching it. However, over the years I have come to believe that it might be more beneficial to pick up a concept that you know works and will be great reinforcement. For instance, the other day in math class I was not feeling like teaching the metric system because I knew it was going to be a difficult task. I wasn’t at the top of my game so instead I pulled out a place value game that I knew would help benefit students. I also did this because I did not want to confuse students because I was not ready to teach them about the metric system. I am not sure I am passionate about the metric system regardless of whether I feel like teaching it or not and for that reason I will follow the advice of Dave Burgess from his book Teach Like a Pirate and fake it.
Usually, to engage students I have something interesting to introduce the lesson. Some of the things I like to use are: visual graphics, hands-on activities, karaoke songs, past work, videos, or interesting tidbits to name a few. For instance, to teach about the metric system I have a song called Meters, Liters and Grams by RRR. My students loved singing along to this song. I also found the song helped them with their work as many referred back to it. According to the site where I purchased the song they have created these songs to, “for teachers who need something fun and engaging to use in class.” I couldn’t agree more! Another activity I like to do is to create a memory trick or pneumonic device to remember the order of the metric system. In this case we used King (Kilo) Henry (Hecta) Died (Deka) By (Base: Meters, Liters, and Grams) Drink (Deci) Chocolate (Centi) Milk (Milli). I also have videos to help reinforce the concepts of the metric system. To further extend the lesson outside of the workbook I allow students to go onto IXL.com to work at their level. I find that when I only work out of the workbook students get bored.
So really to engage my students I have to find ways to get away from the traditional paper pencil method. More recently, I introduced a place value game and I have students begging me to do this during their recess. With that being said it is evident that students thrive for games and they help to teach the concepts we want to review. I found that this place value game has one more for students than weeks of practicing because they are engaged. The key is to find what engages students.
Gazin, A. (n.d.). TEACHERS. Scholastic Teachers. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/engaging-students-keep-them-edge-their-seats
Norobi, M. (n.d.). Ten Tips for Engaging Underperforming Students. Edutopia. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/stw-school-
Use Educational Rap and Hip-Hop Songs in Class!. (n.d.). Educational Rap Songs For Teaching by EducationalRap.com. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.educationalrap.com/