Keeping students engaged is one of the most challenging tasks of a teacher. All students are different, and some of them enjoy classroom activities while others tend to shy away from anything that involves speaking aloud.
However, the task of a teacher is to keep the entire class engaged and grab the attention of each student. Therefore, it is important for you as a teacher to be familiar with various active participation strategies, both in theory and in practice. In this article, we are going to explain how to keep students engaged and share with you our favorite student engagement strategies.
Many of these apply strictly to classroom teaching, but some can be used to teach online from home.
Here are some of the ways to build up active participation
Before your students start working in pairs or groups, we recommend that you teach them to work in teams by using different active engagement games. For example, you can have the kids play a non-academic game together first, such as a simple sports game.
You can have them try to throw as many balls as they can through a hoop within two minutes. Each team member should touch the ball at least once. The game should end with the same person with whom it began. The rest of the kids should observe how the team coped with this task and suggest any possible improvements. It is important that the students work together to develop a strategy that will allow them to increase the number of balls they get through the hoop. This build their concept of teamwork.
Establish A Safe Environment
Some students are afraid of making mistakes and therefore prefer remaining silent over failing. Your task is to explain to the students that mistakes are normal. Do not interrupt them with corrections; instead, give them your feedback at the end of the class. This is crucial when engaging students in learning.
Start each lesson with different warm up activities that are related to the lesson subject. For example, write down the subject on the board and ask the students to work in groups and brainstorm the words that can be related to this subject. Another idea of how to engage students is to ask them to describe a picture, preferably in pairs or groups.
Prior Knowledge Assessment
Ask the students what they know on a lesson topic and write down their answers on a board. Build your lesson based on their answers and fill in their knowledge gaps with information that they do not know yet. This strategy will keep students engaged and interested in the topic throughout the lesson. Sometimes this will be obvious before you even start, like if you’re teaching English to kids.
Mixed Teaching Styles
From time to time, switch from an instructor-centered approach to student-centered approach to engage students and keep them constantly busy.
Simplifying Complex Tasks
Breaking down big complex tasks into smaller chunks a good way to keep everything simpler. Complex projects may scare off the students, which may result in less engagement. However, fulfilling the task step-by-step will bring engagement back to your classroom.
Tasks with several correct answers.
If you give your students tasks where several correct answers are possible, this will make their thinking more flexible and for sure increase overall engagement in the classroom.
Group by Skills
Every now and then, break down the class into temporary groups based on skills that they need to practice, so they can focus on what they really need help with. For example, in language, one group can focus on memorizing new words, while another group can focus on tenses. You can even use different speaking activities to emphasize different skills. As a result, you will have more students engaged in learning, and your students will get dedicated practice time.