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How to get your students engaged

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Jazmin Lozano Jazmin Lozano 190 Points

I am not a teacher yet, I'm studying to be a bilingual educator for elementary, but I will be doing student teaching soon. So I was wondering if anybody has any advice on how I can keep the kids focused in their activities, and how to make them more engaged in classroom discussion?

Pamela Dupre Pam Dupre 92369 Points

Jazmin, I echo waht Ruth posted. Phenomenon is such a great way to engage students immediately and getting them to ask questions. This is a great site for anchor phenomena!

Alexis Martinez Alexis Martinez 320 Points

Hello Jazmin! My advice to you when it comes to keeping students engaged with a classroom discussion is to keep it open. Ask open-ended questions and give students time to answer and explain what they need to say. I would also recommend doing inquiry lessons and hands on activities. Most students work best when they feel involved and can touch something. Just remember to use visuals and give students a chance to take part in the discussion. You could give positive reinforcement to the students who are engaged and are doing well so the others get the idea of what behavior is expected. -Alexis Martinez

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64765 Points

Hello Jazmin,

There are a couple of ways to help kids focused on the activities you are doing. First, make the activity relevant to the student's life. Ask them open-ended questions to get them involved in the classroom discussion. Develop some engaging scenarios and ask them what they would do or how they would solve a particular problem.

You could also show them an image of some science phenomena or maybe a short video and ask them to describe what they see or have them explain what is happening or how something happened. Discrepant events are great conversation starters. This resource (Will it Float?) is a great example of how to use a discrepant event to keep kids excited and involved.

Who else has some ideas, techniques, or strategies that might help Jazmin?

Victoria Krauss Victoria Krauss 1605 Points

I also agree with what Ruth posted. Keeping the activities in the kids interest is going to be a crucial step to keeping them engaged in class. If you have the ability to, try to get a sense of what they want to do. Maybe start out in the beginning of a unit with a what do we want to learn chart. This would give the students a chance to know what everyone else wants to learn, and you can always chose a question that the majority seems interested in to answer. Hands on demonstrations are always good. Kids love to be able to figure things out themselves, and the classroom is a great place to let them explore their environment as well as anything they want to find out. Small demonstrations may be needed to keep the students on task, and small corrections will be needed to keep things safe. Honestly, keeping the students engaged will depend on how much effort the students want to put into the lesson. If the lesson is something they are not interested in, then they will put minimal effort into it. Try to adapt it into something the students would be interested in. Heres a basic list of a few ways to help keep students engaged, I hope this helps! Good luck! Victoria

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

Victoria, you make some valid points, however, I believe the effort to keep students engaged is mostly required of the teacher. As teachers, not only do we need to cover content, we must remember we teach children. Sometimes, the biggest hurdle of the day is to motivate students. If we are excited about a lesson and show that eagerness to students, they will buy in to the lesson when they see their teacher is pumped up. It's not always easy to be excited about every lesson, but it is always worth it to have students engaged.

Darcey Bodziony Darcey Bodziony 945 Points

I agree that teachers do need to take the initiative and find out what the students like. Knowing your students is the key to being able to provide the best learning environment that fits their needs. I am students teaching right now, and my mentor teacher shows emotion in everything she does. Full animation of how excited you are to learn a new fact or find out that your hypothesis was true in a certain experiment is what draws those kids in. When they discover something, however small it may be, show how proud and excited that they drew the same or different result that you did! I agree with Victoria as well that changing up the activities so that we can have hands-on procedures is a key element to think about when planning your lessons. It is also important to notice what is going on in that student's life or just more simply that day, that way you can cater the lesson and think of better explanations and motivation starters that what worked for the rest of the class. The best advice I can give on this for you to use when you are student teaching is to just observe and absorb as much as you can. Really watch to see what you mentor teacher is doing that is getting the students excited and working on the focus at hand. There is no one better to learn from than them!

Molly Lembezeder Molly Lembezeder 3130 Points

I am in the same situation; I will be student teaching very soon and am anxious for science because I've been taught all of these great strategies, but none of them will be beneficial if my students are not interested and engaged. One thing my professors have stressed is the 5 E model for lessons, which includes an "engage" and a phenomena to hook students in. I plan to use this in the future before I release students to explore ideas on their own or in groups and create their own learning experiences. Good luck!

Nadia Bhojwani nadia bhojwani 520 Points

I am not yet a teacher. I am in my last year of the education program at UH and am a student teacher at an elementary. I work with a fourth grade teacher and am responsible for teaching the science lesson. To keep my students engaged in science we do a lot of hands on activities and experiment, which my students absolutely love. We recently did an experiment where worked in groups to build electromagnets.To keep your students actively involved and engaged they need to learn through self-discovery and open discussion. A few weeks ago we learned about solutions and mixtures and used pink lemonade and Chex Mix to learn about some mixture can be easily separated and others not so easily. These activities were relevant and interesting to all my students. In addition, if you are teaching Math you could probably to incorporate some fun math games like reflex math. Reflex Math is a website that allows students play different games and practice different math skills based on their grade level such like addition, subtraction, multiplication.

Emily Shinkle Emily Shinkle 3168 Points

I am close to student teaching as well and we often discuss this topic in our methods classes. Asking open ended questions is a huge part of keeping students engaged and implementing productive classroom talk. If the students are simply waiting to be called on, they will check out until it is their turn. Therefore, it's essential to open questions to all students and use strategies such as "turn and talk" and "discuss with your group", so that everyone is involved in the learning process. I agree with the past posts as well--it is so important to show enthusiasm about the topics, because if you're not excited about the lesson, why would the students want to be? Best of luck with student teaching!

Rachael Niehus Rachael Niehus 3935 Points

I am getting ready for student teaching and am always looking for ways to engage students in lessons as well! I agree, I think phenomena is a great way to get students hooked! I also think another great way to get students engaged is to tie in a local event or a local news story if possible. I find things to be more exciting for students if they can relate or bring more prior knowledge into the lesson. Tying in your community is a great way for students to make connections and bring prior knowledge in!

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