It’s mid-April and many teachers are watching their students hit that near-the-end slump. This usually manifests itself in less engagement in lessons and a general sense of apathy. So how can we combat this inevitable dip in interest and productivity? Here are five ways to change things up and gain the attention of your students even before the lesson begins!
Play a video clip. Many of today’s students are visual learners. They are growing up on a steady diet of media and it has become the way in which they relate to the world around them. So, begin class on their level. Show a movie clip, a TedX talk, some spoken word, or any other engaging video relating to your content area to kick off the lesson. Guaranteed they will enter the lesson with more enthusiasm than before.
Ask a thought-provoking question. If you don’t have time or resources for media, try starting with a thought-provoking question. You can write a quote on the board and ask them how they perceive the quote and how they feel it will relate to the lesson. Make sure the question is relevant to your topic so that it will “get their juices flowing” in the right direction.
Play a game. It may sound ridiculous to spend instructional time on a game, but there are ways in which to make them valuable for your student. If your students have computer access, you can set up a quick Kahoot! game that can act as a way to prime the pump for your lesson. If you don’t have media access, try something like “Two Truths and a Lie” about a historical figure or poet you will be discussing.
Rearrange the desks. Breaking the monotony of the school week is an easy way to get the students interested in what’s going on in your class. The school day is habitual and routine and students become lazy in their comfort; so shake them out of it! Move the desks into pairs one day, into groups the next, in a circle the following day. The changing scenery will keep them on their toes.
Tell them NOT to take out their textbooks. As with the previous suggestion, this one is about defying their expectations. They expect the settle-down-and-take-out-your-books comment. They expect the lesson to start with shuffling and murmuring and general commotion. So surprise them; tell them to leave all their things packed away, to have a clean desk in front of them. They will be curious (and possibly quite excited at the thought of no ‘real work’), and they will be listening for what comes next. So make it count.
These tips work year-round, but are especially useful during this time of year. Keeping your students engaged doesn’t have to be an uphill battle, but may require some trial-and-error. Be sure to check back here at Social Studies MegaStore for more teaching tips and tricks!