5 Effective Strategies to Increase Student Engagement

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Have you ever been to a Professional Development session where you sit and listen the whole time?

I have… and it wasn’t pretty.

Sitting there listening to a speaker without a chance to get up and interact with others is plain old boring. I usually end up pulling out my phone and scrolling through all kinds of sites just to keep my sanity.

Our students feel the same way. As much as they love you and want to listen, they are not able to concentrate and listen for long periods of time. Student engagement is key to avoid negative behaviors and get kids excited about learning.

One of the best ways to get kids energized and refocused is to get them out of their seats. I love using strategies to get them talking and walking. It works and they always ask for more.

But most importantly it increases student engagement  100 percent!

You can use these strategies in any content area and to pretty much review any skill.

When I taught third and fourth grades I promised myself I would get kids out of their seats at least 3 times a day. They loved it and engagement skyrocketed every time.

Here is a list of strategies  and games I love to use in my classroom to increase student engagement:

STAND UP, HAND UP,  PAIR UP

This one can be used to answer questions you pose after a reading or math lesson, to go over questions on a worksheet or to go over homework.

How does it work?

When you say Stand Up, students stand up next to their desk. You say “Hand Up” and they raise their right hand. I usually play music and let them walk around the room with their hand up. When music stops you say Pair Up and they find a partner and high five them.
They will take turns answering whichever question you pose verbally or sharing answers to “question 1” on their handout.
You decide when sharing time is up and play music again. They continue to walk with their hand up until music stops and you say Pair up.

QUIZ QUIZ TRADE

This one is great for review prior to a test. You need to create questions on cards. you need the same number of cards as you have students. Task cards are great for this. The answers need to be on the back of the card so students can check their peer.

How does it work?

  1. Have students stand up, out their hand up and pair up with someone who has their hand up.
  2. Partner A quizzes
  3. Partner B answers
  4. Partner A coaches or praises
  5. Switch roles
  6. Partners trade cards and raise their hands to find new partners
  7. Repeat

FOUR CORNERS

This strategy is used when students need to take a stand on a question being posed.

How does it work?

You label the four corners in your classroom according to the question being posed. If students need to take a stand or make a decision, you label it with “Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree”
Students move to the corner that best aligns with their thinking. To take it even further, ask students to support their opinion with 3 reasons.

TRASHKETBALL

This game is great to review any skill in any content. I have used this game countless times and the kids love it. It’s highly competitive and great to play in teams. I create a slide show with the questions I want the students to answer. This could be a math review, questions based on a reading passage, or science questions based on a topic.

How does it work?

• Break the class up into teams. The number of teams is up to you. I recommend 4 to 6 students in a team
• Provide each student with a recording sheet  or you can give them dry erase boards to show their work.
• Set the trash can up in front of the classroom. Also set up different levels to take shots from, a one, two, and three point line.
• Project the slides on a smart board or using a projector and set a time for students to solve. It could be any number of minutes you feel your students need to solve.
• Each student solves the problem independently and then consults with their team members to agree on an answer.
• When time is up, call a member of each team to come up and show you their answer. If correct the team scores a point. They also get a chance to score bonus points
• For the bonus points, they get to shoot a soft ball into the trash can. They can score 1, 2, or 3 points depending how far from the can they stand ( Set up shooting point lines in advance

SCAVENGER HUNTS

Oh how I love scavenger hunts. they are pretty easy to set up and again they work for any topic. I love to use them to review math skills. You can set up a set of questions on pieces of paper, one question per paper. You then will have the answer to that question on top of a different paper with a different question and so on. Basically the answer to each question is on a different sheet, which the students need to find to complete that question.

How does it work?

➟Tape questions to the walls around your room or hang from the ceiling (spread out).
➟Break up class into the same number of groups as questions. If 10 questions, then 10 groups.
➟Hand each student a copy of a recording sheet.
➟Place each pair or group of students at any of the stations.
Each stations sheet has a code, which students will enter on their recording sheet as they answer each question. This is to keep track of the problems they have solved.
➟Students work with partners to solve the problem on the paper and record it on their sheet. Then, they look for the answer they just recorded until they find it. Once they find it, they solve the problem on that sheet and so on until all stations have been visited.
➟If they cannot locate their answer, that means they made a mistake.
➟Students will end up where they started from

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