Week One: (EDET 668) How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

I agree with Burgess when he had stated, “We are not passionate about everything we teach” (pg. Loc 137 of 2084).  Though we feel guilty when we realize this we find new ways to be inspired to engage our students to feel the passion we feel for what we love to do, teach.  When he spoke on about being interested in a 30 minute informative conversation about hawks though he didn’t even care for them, or even the out-of-doors, it reminded me of my own students.  They come to us so excited and passionate about the little things in their lives.  As a teacher I try not to just dismiss it, but to feed on that passion and connect it to what we are doing in the classroom.  This makes the idea of programs that require teachers to teach certain lessons at certain times in certain ways takes away from that passion and creativity that helps to engage our students.

Learning should be fun and innovative allowing students to feel as if they are a part of creating the journey.  Finding their passions and immersing them into a world that they assist in creating can build their enthusiasm.  This, in turn, empowers them and encourages involvement.  By allowing students to share their personal knowledge on modern-day technology is a way to “hook” them.  Even my own children have a lot of technological knowledge that I don’t even pretend to have.  Instead of hindering their excitement I ask them to share their knowledge with me which then encourages them to more frequently share with me their endeavors.  I found a YouTube video called Engage Me that was created by Robin Hood School in Birmingham, Alabama.  It shares the idea of letting technology become a part of the classroom to further engage our students.  For many, this is the hook that will keep them interested in school life.

Then there are those students who just drift off into their own world while you are trying to teach a lesson.  A list like the one below demonstrates ways that you can keep those kids engaged.

  • Start Class with a Mind Warm-Up
  • Use Movement to Get Kids Focused
  • Teach Students How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success
  • Use Quickwrites When You Want Quiet Time and Student Reflection
  • Run a Tight Ship When Giving Instructions
  • Use a Fairness Cup to Keep Students Thinking
  • Use Signaling to Allow Everyone to Answer Your Question
  • Use Minimal-Supervision Tasks to Squeeze Dead Time out of Regular Routines
  • Mix up Your Teaching Styles
  • Create Teamwork Tactics That Emphasize Accountability (Frondeville, 2015)

Movement seems to be one that makes sure all are following along, it also increases oxygen to the brain.  Good classroom management and respecting the kids is important for closer classroom rapport.  When students feel listened to and appreciated they are more willing to be respectful in return.  These are great suggestions for keeping all involved.  Even the idea of mixing around who you call on so that everyone knows you could call on them instead of the one kids who seems to always answer all of the questions can encourage that involvement.  If students see that others are not participating they may feel that they don’t need to either.

Differentiating to keep all striving towards their own personal goals is a life-long lesson that students should feel comfortable in creating on their own.  We need to make sure that all students are challenged at their own levels.  To do this we first need to learn about our students through assessments.  We want them to progress towards the core so we have to attend to their needs and modify things as needed for the individual student.  Always making sure to be positive in every approach so students feel valued and allowing for flexible grouping can continue to motivate them throughout their schooling years.  I found another individual who agrees with my thinking, below are her 5 strategies for keeping student involvement.

  • Assessing
  • Keeping students moving forward
  • Differentiating assignments
  • Praising effort and learning from mistakes
  • Using flexible grouping (Strauss, 2013)

For me it is the excitement of learning new things.  I have taken technology into my classroom, which is actually the gym.  I am a PE teacher for an elementary school.  I always feel that I am not as passionate about teaching dance, though it is in the curriculum.  So, last year I decided to show a video the Syd Shuffle.  This video was fun for the kids to see on the wall of the gym, then to dance with Syd after I had taught the moves.  They were excited and fully engaged.  Even students who didn’t want to dance got into it.  The energy I brought from my excitement spread to the kids, but only after I had taught the lesson a few times.  Though I felt that those first couple of classes were “flops” I looked at what I did and modified.  The first couple of classes I learned a lot while teaching.  How to set the kids up, how to better teach the dance moves and how to get those kids that didn’t want to move to actually move.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun and well worth the work.  I was able to incorporate technology into a room that seldom uses it visually and got a little more confident on teaching dance moves.

Cites Referenced

agent4changenet. (2009, February 1). Engage Me. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZokqjjIy77Y

Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a Pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.

Frondeville, T. (2015, September 4). How to keep Kids Engaged in Class. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/classroom-student-participation-tips

Official ICE AGE – CONTINENTAL DRIFT Channel. (2012, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMuJxd2Gpxo

Strauss, V. (2013, October 29). Five Key Strategies to Get/Keep Kids Engaged at School. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/29/five-key-strategies-to-getkeep-kids-engaged-at-school/

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9 thoughts on “Week One: (EDET 668) How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

  1. Thanks for sharing your list of ways to keep students engaged. I remember when I first started teaching, watching my students tune out of my lessons. I felt like even if I lit myself on fire they wouldn’t pay attention. It’s important to remember each child comes with individual needs and educators need to do our best to engage every student.

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    • I agree, that first year of teaching you are so busy just learning how to float you don’t want to fully go under water. I agree that every child and there own circumstances matter. They need to feel acknowledged and appreciated. We have that opportunity to help them learn how to deal with what they are given and make those choices that will help them to become who they want to be.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the videos those were great examples. I’d love to launch an idea off of this, I think with the High School Students they could create their own video to Sid’s voice. Thanks for Sharing.

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  3. Sunshine- That is a good point that having them share their knowledge on technology is a way to hook them. It also gets them excited because they know something you don’t. I remember when I first tried iMovie in the classroom. I didn’t know much about it but I have several students who did know. They were excited to help others who needed help. Those are all great ideas! I want to try movement in my classroom. Differentiating is also a great one. Not all students are going to be great at one task if you differentiate then that will give them a chance to be successful at the task you are giving them.

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    • Movement is always so helpful. I was just reading an article the other day where it reminded me that we don’t sit down all day at our chairs, so why should we require it of our students. I know that even in the regular classroom I was on my feet most of the day. Incorporating movement even if it is just mingling to music or doing some jumping jacks, yoga or dancing we can really get their brains energized by getting their oxygen flowing.

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      • That is so true! I can’t not even if I wanted to sit at my chair all day. I probably sit at my chair for 10 minutes the most in a class period. I am also over here, over there helping kids. I am going to look into more movement in my classroom.

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  4. I feel a little guilty when I do not like what I have to teach. I just know that if I am excited, then my students will be excited too. That is why I really connected to the idea of being passionate about teaching. I completely agree with you, when you wrote “This makes the idea of programs that require teachers to teach certain lessons at certain times in certain ways takes away from that passion and creativity that helps to engage our students.” I feel like I have some wiggle room to teach what I’d like to teach how I want to teach it, but I know that there are districts that do not allow teachers to be creative. I actually thought about that a lot when I was interviewing for a position two years ago. I also appreciated your list of ideas to engage students!

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    • I have heard horror stories, as I am sure you have as well, of other people and the limitations they are dealing with in their own districts. It makes it very difficult to differentiate and keep their interests if you are required to teach a “program.” I understand that they want that fluidity among buildings within the district, but couldn’t they just focus on specific areas of explorations being addressed at certain times? It would loosen that barrier a little bit for those who struggle with this.

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