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31 Cool Ideas for Boosting Student Engagement (and Teacher Skills)

Ramp up student engagement and motivation—and kickstart your own professional development—with a month’s worth of great tips and strategies. Build positive classroom climate, too! Here are 31 ideas to implement at virtually no cost.
 

  1. Borrow a professional development book a colleague has read, then read it yourself and compare notes. Was your colleague able to put the book’s recommendations into practice? How about you?

  2. Think about how a lesson could be enhanced by getting kids outside. Lessons on plants, animals and weather are obvious choices, but get creative and think about how math and language arts might benefit from the hands-on opportunities that abound outdoors. If the weather won’t cooperate, bring the outdoors in.
     
  3. Register for a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) that would help you in the classroom.
     
  4. For a given unit or lesson, let students choose how they’d like their learning to be assessed.
     
  5. Read about why educators should be on Twitter, and start by choosing to follow five people or organizations of interest. Bonus: Check out a scheduled Twitter chat.
     
  6. Teach about a multicultural holiday that falls in any month except December. If the holiday has a religious component or origin, first review do’s and don’ts for addressing religion appropriately in the classroom.
     
  7. Ask a colleague for advice on a challenge you’re having with a particular lesson or student.
     
  8. Get inspiration at teachingchannel.org. Then videotape yourself delivering a particularly engaging lesson or implementing a teaching strategy with which you’ve had success. Present and discuss the video at your next staff meeting.

  9. Build positive classroom climate by asking individual students (one per day all month): When (name a time, or in what types of situations) have you felt most successful in school? How can we re-create those conditions more often?
     
  10. Let kids keep track of their assessment scores throughout the month, reflect about their improvements and identify areas in which they need further practice.
     
  11. After teaching a challenging topic, use exit slips to make sure students “got it.”
     
  12. Use your free period to observe another teacher. Reflect upon what you saw that could help in your own classroom. Later in the month, have that teacher observe you and reflect. Then share your notes.
     
  13. Designate a class period as a mini “genius hour” where students have full rein to explore their passions and creativity.
     
  14. Start off class by playing a song that’s popular with students (pre-screen the lyrics for appropriateness). If possible, discuss how the song relates to the topic at hand. Here’s an example.
     
  15. Read about the Say-See-Do teaching model. Incorporate at least one low-effort, no-cost strategy for facilitating students’ experiential learning.
     
  16. Identify (or let kids identify) a real-world problem that requires critical thinking to solve. Have students think of themselves as consultants who have been hired to help solve the problem. Examples include a family not having enough time to cook healthy meals, a community event that needs funding, or graffiti in the town park. Encourage students to do research and talk to experts (even other students and school staff) to gather ideas. Then have them present their solution.
     
  17. Consider your most challenging students and identify opportunities for them to help others and take on leadership roles.
     
  18. Incorporate movement into the school day. Get ideas here.
     
  19. Take a “tried and true” lesson and enhance it by adding presentation modes, activities or assessment methods that draw on multiple intelligences.
     
  20. Find inspiration and ideas by checking out at least three great educator blogs.
     
  21. Translate a traditional worksheet into a real-world activity.
     
  22. Have students create a shared written product using a class wiki, or let kids run their own class discussion via a chatroom session.
     
  23. Use the “what I see in you” exercise to boost students’ self-esteem.
     
  24. Use the jigsaw method, a form of structured collaboration in which kids teach each other.
     
  25. Have students publish their written work online for an authentic audience (parents, other students, other teachers, etc.). Blogs offer the perfect student publishing opportunity.
     
  26. Encourage students to design their own homework assignment.
     
  27. Take this quiz to determine your student discipline style. Identify at least one way in which you can adjust your language or practices to fully embrace an Information Age approach.
     
  28. “Gamify” a lesson.
     
  29. Invite a “virtual speaker” to class via Skype.
     
  30. Each day of the month, have a student teach part of the lesson (2-5 minutes’ worth, depending on kids’ age). Keep notes on what each did well and how s/he could improve. Next month, have kids put the feedback into practice by teaching another topic. (Got shy kids? Try having students teach you at the front of the room, rather than having to face all of their classmates. Or pair kids up and have them team-teach.)
     
  31. Discuss with students an issue or event that was on the TV news, in a print or online news source, or in a popular magazine. How does it apply to what they are learning in class? Get ideas here.


Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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Copyright © 2014 Education World

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