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Book Review: Battling Boredom

Title:  Battling Boredom – 99 Strategies to Spark Student Engagement, by Bryan Harris. Eye on Education, 2011.

Description:  Following a brief and to-the-point introduction that references brain-based learning theory, the author shares a statistic that will probably hit home home with teachers and students alike: Half of students in one large survey reported being bored in school every day. He offers a great explanation of what students really mean when they say in class, “This is boring.” They might actually be saying:

“I already know this, why do I have to do it again?” or
“I don’t see the value in what I’m being asked to do.”

The author then provides a series of strategies (each getting no more than a page), that fall into the following categories: Begin a Lesson, End a Lesson, Solo/Independent Work, Whole Group, Partners and Small Groups, and Student Movement. Examples of strategies include the following.

“Agree/Disagree Statements”: Have students vote or otherwise express their opinions on three or more statements that you present (relating to the lesson). Students sort themselves by walking into a certain corner of the room, holding up an agree/disagree sign, etc. Kids get the chance to talk with those with whom they agree/disagree (including the teacher).

“Ticket in the Door”: As lesson begins, give each student a post-it note with a key word or concept, and tell them they should take a few minutes becoming experts on the term or idea. When they hear their term being talked about later in the lesson, they will be asked to share what they know.

The strategies are not lesson plans. Rather, they are ways of getting students to engage more deeply with the material that you already planned to cover.

Bottom Line:  Battling Boredom is a treasure trove of great ideas for keeping things interesting in class and putting students in charge of their own learning. Implementing even a few of these ideas will allow you to stay on track with standards and objectives while reducing disruptive behavior, yawning, dozing, and the like. Better yet, every strategy is completely doable, with no supplies or complicated preparation needed.

About the Author:  Bryan Harris is director of professional development and public relations for the Casa Grande Elementary School District in Casa Grande, Arizona. He has extensive experience working with K-12 teachers providing staff development in the areas of brain-based learning, gender differences in the classroom, motivation, classroom management and instructional strategies.

To Purchase:  Battling Boredom retails for $29.95 and is available on


Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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