Keeping pupils interested can be difficult, even for the most experienced of teachers. Research shows that neo-millennials have an attention span of just eight seconds; however with student engagement central to learning and personal development, getting it right is crucial.
Of course, keeping students engaged is about more than getting them to sit up straight and listen. According to research, engagement takes place on three different levels, and to truly maximise engagement in older children, teachers must be able to inspire all three;
1. Behavioural engagement (represented by good behaviour in the classroom)
2. Emotional engagement (where children like and/or value what they are doing)
3. Cognitive engagement (a psychological state where students put in a lot of effort to understand a topic).
The following five strategies can help high school teachers to capture the underlying enthusiasm that sits at the heart of each pupil.
1) Foster collaboration
When students work well with others, engagement is intensified. As such, collaborative educational experiences help to ensure the active participation of each and every pupil. Such collaborative learning can take a variety of formats, such as quick, active learning activities or longer-term group projects.
Technology can also be used to enhance collaborative learning in the classroom. For example, today, the chalkboard has gone digital, and it is no longer a one-user device. Teachers can use the latest flat panel and interactive whiteboard technology to start a pupil collaboration or brainstorming session, turning the board into an interactive digital canvas and promoting deeper learning and engagement. Some flat panels also let students send work directly to their teacher for instant inclusion in lessons – improving engagement even further.
2) Provide choice
Students are more likely to be motivated when they have a say in what they’re doing, and this is particularly true of older children.
Flipped learning – which requires pupils to engage with instructional content in their own time, before undertaking corresponding tasks in the classroom – is one way to deliver more personalised learning; with students able to access learning material at a time that best suits their individual needs. Fundamentally rethinking the way teachers teach, and pupils learn, a recent study found that 75% of teachers surveyed witnessed greater student engagement after implementing flipped learning. Find out more about the benefits and challenges of introducing flipped learning in the classroom.
3) Introduce instant assessment
Instant assessment tools let teachers mark and collate responses at the moment of learning. By immediately identifying and addressing any gaps in knowledge, teachers can then tailor their lessons to the real needs of each student, helping to keep them engaged.
Instant assessment technology can also be used to facilitate classroom discussions, with pupils sending their answers to assessments, from their devices, in real-time. This learning can then be shared with the whole class, raising questions that further stimulate discussion and engagement.
4) Recognise the needs of each student
Of course, not all pupils learn the same way. As such, when teaching a classroom full of high school students, it helps to have a variety of different means to present the course material. Empowering pupil-centred learning, edtech can also be used to set different questions for different pupils, depending on their ability and particular learning style.
Pupils also perform better when teachers connect lessons to their real-life experiences, with relevant and relatable points. With research showing that students are more likely to disengage if they don’t connect with a learning activity, highlighting how a particular assignment relates to a student’s real life can be invaluable.
5) Harness the power of technology in the classroom
3D printers, virtual and augmented reality, cloud-based platforms, and gaming are helping students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and opening up new styles of learning. Schools across the UK are using games such as Minecraft to help with reading comprehension and maths, and The Institute of Play has highlighted the positive role of games in cognitive and social development.
Neo-millennials are also fans of video, podcasts, and image sharing applications such as Instagram and Pinterest. So, when seeking to increase engagement with modern learners, it makes sense for teachers to bring this technology into the classroom if they want to reach out to students in the manner they prefer.
The more engaged a pupil is, the more they think about their lessons, and the more they study, absorb, and learn.
Facilitating interaction and collaborative learning, ClassFlow lets pupils play an active part in their studies, increasing the depth of student engagement. Simple to adopt, ClassFlow doesn’t require any change in teaching approach – it is simply an enablement tool – with teachers helped every step of the way with a wealth of support resources.
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