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Five ways to maximise engagement in primary schools

Student engagement is crucial to learning and personal development. The more engaged a pupil is, the more they think about their lessons, here are some ways to maximise engagement

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Engaging students remotely became one of the biggest challenges facing teachers this year according to our annual State of Technology in Education Report. Sustaining their interest can be difficult, and a lack of understanding about what ‘engagement’ actually means only makes things trickier. Student engagement is crucial to learning and personal development. The more engaged a pupil is, the more they focus and get the most out of their lessons. Here are some ways to maximise engagement.

What is engagement?

Keeping students engaged is about more than getting them to sit up straight and listen. Indeed, according to research, there are different levels:

  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

To truly maximise engagement in primary classrooms, teachers must be able to inspire all three. So here are five strategies to help educators captivate the underlying enthusiasm that sits at the heart of every pupil.

1) Provide choice

Pupils are more likely to be motivated when they have a say in what they’re doing. Of course, we can’t expect children to be entirely independent, but by giving them control of small things throughout the day, they are more likely to build autonomy and learn to make wise decisions.

In primary schools, teachers can achieve this by offering pupils a choice of assignments or activities. By providing options, learning becomes student-centred rather than teacher-centred, bolstering student engagement levels. You can also find out their preferred learning style according to VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinaesthetic), and cater for them in lesson plans.

Even giving pupils the pick of where they want to work — such as at a desk or in a group floor space with cushions — can help maximise pupil engagement. Find out more benefits of the flexible classroom.

2) Get to know your pupils

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But by taking the time to find out more about what each child likes to do outside of the classroom, teachers can bring this information into lesson planning, referencing it in examples and assignments.

In primary schools, this could be as simple as asking children to make a moodboard of their interests, with guidance on what to include (e.g. what are your hobbies? What is your favourite animal? Which country would you like to visit?). Once collated, teachers can use this information to more personally connect with pupils, making lessons more meaningful and pupils more engaged.

3) Make it fun

For many pupils, assessments can be stressful. However, with frequent quizzes beneficial to learning, teachers can engage students while gathering insight into their progress.

Fun quizzes and polls can be used to facilitate active participation by pupils, and by sharing work with the whole class using device mirroring, teachers can further stimulate discussion and active participation.

Instant assessment tools also let teachers mark and collate responses at the moment of learning, in real time. By immediately identifying and addressing any knowledge gaps, teachers can then tailor lessons to the real needs of each student, helping to keep them engaged. Find out more about how technology can aid learning and assessment.

4) Harness the power of technology in the classroom

Today’s children have grown up surrounded by tech, so it makes sense to bring this into the classroom. Social media tools such as Pinterest can be used to showcase exemplary work, with teachers pinning student work to a special board to celebrate their achievements.

Likewise, educational tools such as Bee-Bots provide colourful, easy-to-operate, friendly little robots that are perfect for teaching young children about sequencing, estimation and problem-solving.

5) Foster collaboration

When students work effectively together, engagement is intensified as a result. As such, collaborative learning helps to ensure the active participation of each and every pupil.

However, left to their own devices, children are likely to form and stay in the same ‘cliques’; it can be difficult for less confident pupils to shine in group activities, particularly when they fall into an established role within a group.

To help create a sense of connection to others during class activities, primary school teachers can create more fluid teams by grouping children by different traits each day, such as birth month or favourite food. Over time, this approach helps to break down barriers between children.

Fostering individual accountability by assigning different roles, and appraising both the pupil and the group performance, also helps to maximise the benefits of collaborative learning.

In conclusion

Student engagement is crucial to learning and personal development. The more engaged a pupil is, the more they study, absorb and learn. What’s more, a lack of engagement doesn’t just impact individual pupils, but can also have a knock-on effect on the wider class. Indeed, children who are sunk in chairs, disruptive or not paying attention can be demotivating for other pupils and teachers alike.

Promethean’s edtech solutions can help. Cultivating interaction and collaborative learning, ActivInspire lets pupils play an active part in their studies, increasing the depth of student engagement. Easy to adopt, but hugely rewarding, ActivInspire doesn’t require any change in teaching approach: it’s simply an enablement tool which supports teachers every step of the way with a wealth of resources.

Our front-of-class displays come with this award-winning software — request a free ActivPanel demo today and uncover the benefits for yourself.

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