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How To Make Your Students More Engaged

In the world of social media, mobile apps, video games and all other easily accessible and tempting stimuli, keeping your students engaged and focused may sound like pure horror.  Competing with all the above might be a huge challenge and no amount of reprimanding is going to change their minds. They’ll just treat your lessons like even more of a chore and act like robots, until the very second  they’re free.

So what can be done to make them more engaged? You need to use what they love to your advantage. Need some examples? Today we have prepared some ideas, that can be implemented into your lesson plans and ensure, that your students will not only enjoy your classes, but also stay active, focused and remember more.

 

Use The Element of Surprise

Nowadays, people are used to being stimulated all the time. Few presses on the smartphone screen can make them laugh and feel a wide array of emotions. Considering how this changes their perception of the world, it’s good to adjust your lesson plans and try to cater to that.

Let’s say you’re preparing a presentation explaining a topic. Why not add some unexpected items to it? For example, when planning a lesson about the history of newspapers, you can spice your presentation up, and sprinkle it with various funny and unexpected headings from a century or two ago. One can appear every 3 or 4 slides. It should cost you no more than a few hours of googling, and will end up making the students amused, focused and curious about what’s going to pop up next. Same technique can be applied to almost any other topic from coding to language lessons.

 

Familiar Characters and Stories Can Work Wonders

Using multimedia and Youtube can also work wonders, especially in short bursts. Same with the element of familiarity. You can use clips of characters, games and movies your students adore as examples to illustrate the problems you’re talking about. Sure, not everything can fit these, but trying to do it from time to time can really help you speak their language and makes them a lot more engaged. For example: some lecturers use multiplayer video games as references to sociology related topics, and often have a crowd of students waiting to ask  them questions afterwards.

 

Get Them Moving

Adding some simple physical activities to your lessons can be a nice way to shake things up a little. They make the students focused and more engaged. They’re also great for developing non verbal communication skills and coordination. You can for example task your pupils with answering questions that have 2 choices (or stances) by standing up or sitting down. A series of questions like these can be a great way to make them more energetic in the morning (or after a lunch) and move their attention away from all distractions.

Other idea: make them perform role plays to illustrate how they understand certain concepts. It will not only break the monotony and make them focus, but also increase their creativity and teamwork skills.

 

Promote Interaction

Many younger people despise lecture type lessons, because they take their friends away and make them sit silently, with barely any social interactions. If your topic can in any way benefit from introducing teamwork… don’t hesitate and add it!

Group assignments, discussion in pairs, project based learning – no matter which style works out for you, the amount of additional engagement it brings is tremendous. It’s especially good for students, who don’t normally take part in class wide discussions. In smaller groups they feel more confident and will be more inclined to share what they think.

 

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

 

Social media can be useful tools, and are often well received during classes. After a group finishes the project they’ve been working on, make them share it on their blog or on some social media platform like Instagram. This makes the material feel less school-like and also promotes social aspect of learning, that we’ve discussed earlier. If you want something even more original, creating your own podcast might be worthwhile. Some teachers, who teach elementary classes, love to do this with their pupils in early years, and then play these when they are near the end of the school.

 

Video Games Can Be Your Friends

Let’s not forget about video games. While at first they may seem like the opposite of studying, there are actually tons of simple and useful games for almost any lesson plan. Subjects like coding can benefit  a lot from games that introduce theoretical elements in an attractive, fun way, without overwhelming and discouraging children early on. As long as you can pick titles related to your lesson, where controlling the content is possible, it’s worth giving it a try.

If you prefer to focus on more traditional media, gamification might still be an interesting choice. Instead of using games, try implementing their elements to your classes. This can include grading based on experience points, making leaderboards and adding narratives to theoretical topics.

 

Invite Technology to Your Classroom

Finally: try implementing some modern technology devices into your lesson plans. We already talked about games, but gadgets like educational robots can also work wonders when it comes to increasing engagement. This way of studying makes your pupils interact directly with technology and can make them aware of ideas they wouldn’t get so easily just by studying theory.

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