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Elementary Science

How do you keep students engaged in the topic?

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Tiffani Beitz Tiffani Beitz 2130 Points

What do you do if students do not want to pay attention or participate in a topic or activity? 

Cami Scovill Cami Scovill 1940 Points

Hey Tiffani 

I would say if students are not paying attention or wanting to particiapte the lesson is to easy or not meaningful enough. I know you have to teach what you are told but maybe there are more fun and hands-on activities that you can provide to the kids. There are many great ideas on the NGSS website. When activities are hands-on students want to participate and play with all the materials they are given. It provides them a fun way to solve the questions you have given them. Worksheets are to boring and repetitive for students and they tune out after a while. If students do not see the importance of learning about the topic they wont. They need to be able to connect it to their lives to get the full understadnding and get that willingness to learn. I hope this helps you!!

Karlie Fahey Karlie Fahey 1655 Points

Hi Tiffani! 

 I am currently enrolled in a science methods course at the Univeristy of Northern Iowa. We are using the 5E lesson plan template to create a mini science unit. The 5E lesson plan includes five phases of teaching; engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. We have learned to focus on the different phases as we teach to help students motivate themselves to explore the questions and elaborate ont the explaination for why something happens. I have used the 5E lesson plan to execute lessons to a class of elementary students and it has worked very well. Allowing students to engage in an activity that encourages them to explore, fosters their own critical thinking and arises questioning about the topic. As the teacher, explaining to the students the reasoning behind phenomena and providing the tools to elaborate seems to get them excited about learning. Each student is different and may explain their thinking in a different way, but giving students to freedom to explore is a great way to motivate students and also get to know the students in the classroom. 


Good luck! I hope that helped.


Jennifer Wiley Jennifer Wiley 120 Points


   Sometimes it is not so much the content that we are teach but it is how we teach. Students need to be kept on their toes to be engaged and motivated. If a student comes into class everyday knowing that the teacher is going to talk at them while they are supposed to write notes, they will not be motivated or interested in the topic. Allow for some differentiation. Start the class period off with a review game. End the class with an exit ticket where student write something they found interesting. Add activities and movement to the classroom. It is commonly said that you attention span in minutes is equivalant to your age. That would mean a 7 year old has an attention span of 7 mintues. If the student does not want to participate and you are offerning activities and a change of classroom pace, then there might be something more going on. Get to know your students on a personal yet professional level. They may be struggling with the course, don't understand prior content, are focused on other assignements, etc. There are a plethora of reasons a student might not pay attention or participate. Keeping students on their toes and taking the time to get to know your students and their learning preferences can help a lot to say the least. 

Jennifer Wiley 

Elementary Education Undergrad 

Wartburg College

Emma Moss Emma Moss 100 Points


This is a very good question and I know it is an issue that many teachers run to. In order to get your students to pay attention to your content, you need to present your manner in a way worth paying attention too. Something you could try in a science setting is having a demonstration at the beginning of class that is presented with great showmanship that draws students in! Another thing that you could try is getting your students moving and engaging in hands-on activities, the more memorable you make your class the more students will be engaged and retain information. I think the best thing you can do as an educator is to develop different and unique ways to present information to your student and also incorporate their own lives and interests into your lesson, if things apply to them they will find it easier to pay attention. I hope this helps! 

Emma Moss 

Pre Service Teacher

Wartburg College

Ashley Jacobs Ashley Jacobs 80 Points


   This can be a hard task especially for a topic that is harder to address or teach. Some things that I have found helpful is first have an up- beat positive attitude about the topic. The more excited and engaged you are the more the students will reciprocate what you are doing. Staring off with KWL charts are another good way, that shows what they know so you aren’t teaching what they already know, new information is more likely to keep them engaged. The last piece of advice I have would be to show a short video or clip on the topic that really pulls students in!

Best of Luck,

Ashley Jacobs
Wartburg College ‘19
Elementary Education Major

Brennen Doebel Brennen Doebel 80 Points

This is a really good question that im sure every teacher will have at some point in time. I think that part of keeping them engaged has to do with how well you know the students because it will be different for every classroom. For the students that need to do hands on stufff to stay attentive, it will be different than the student that would prefer to just read and do their homework by themself. 


Brennen Doebel

Pre-Service Teacher

Wartburg College '20

Monica Malila Monica Malila 2810 Points

If students do not want to pay attention or participate make the topic or activity meaningful to students. Many students will not want to participate or pay attention because they don't see the activity or topic being relevant to their life. Find a way to link your activity or topic to real-life experiences so students understand what they are learning can contribute to the future. Another way to get students to participate is to have the students responsible for their own learning. As the teacher you could come up with an open-ended problem posing question for them to have an open discussion about with their classmates. This can drive your lesson in many different ways as the students have the opportunity to design their own learning experience by having them explore with a variety of materials and ask questions. 

Katie Costigan Katie Costigan 2075 Points

Hi Tiffani, 

Keeping students engaged can be hard. However, before beginning instruction it is important to get to know each one of your students so that you are able to relate content towards their interests or everyday lives. It is also important that you vary how you are presenting your instruction. Instruction should be switched up between videos, hands on activities, books, etc. Students of course enjoy hands on learning rather than reading out of a book. In this day and age, technology has become a very beneficial resource to teaching and is often used in the classrooms today. Technology is becoming more and more common in the classroom all around the world.

Creating 5E lesson plans break down the lesson plan in order to keep the students engaged. The 5E's are Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. Each phase of these lesson plans work towards the end of students being able to complete the learning objective on their own. Each phase of these lesson plans would keep students engaged as they are involved with each stage of the lesson plan. 

When it comes to science, inquiry lesson plans allow for students to build off of their own ideas and research. The teacher or student may pose a question, and then students research or experiement what they can find with that question. This type of lesson is very engaging for students of all ages because they are able to experiment on their on given materials. I have attached a video of what inquiry based learning is.

In addition to that, if you can tell students are getting bored with content, brain breaks can be very beneficial to students.

Good luck!!

Samantha Woods Samantha Woods 90 Points


This is a question that a lot of teachers ask. You really need to know your students and how they act in different situation. Student’s attentions span last about 3 to 7 minutes depending on their age. The attention span last longer if you are doing different activities with the students rather them just sitting their listening to you. If you want them to pay attention then have hands on activities for them to do. The participation part is a little harder to figure out in some students. They could participate in one idea and not in the other. That is why you need to get to know them and what they like to do. You as the teacher also need to be involved so they know its okay for everyone. I hope this helps you!


Sammi Woods

Elementary Education Undergrad

Wartburg College


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