How to Trigger Engagement with your Students

How to Trigger Engagement with your Students


It’s a fact – getting students engaged in the classroom is hard.  Kids might feel intimidated to speak in front of their classmates, or they might just not know the answer to a question, but teachers across the country struggle to engage their students. Here are 7 ways to spark your students’ engagement in the classroom:

Use Mystery to Trigger Curiousity

As humans, we have a natural curiosity – we’re always trying to find out what happens next.  Solving puzzles, discovering patterns, resolving problems – they’re all great ways to learn. When you have a lesson that you worry may not trigger participation from your students, pose it as something that needs to be figured out or contemplated.  For instance, ask questions like “How would Ohio be different if it’s climate was tropical?”

Do Not Rush Through Questions

When posing a question to your class – Pause once after asking the initial question, and again after every answer that is given.

Subsequent pauses after every answer helps students reconsider the question after the first answer is given.  If you rush through and just take an answer from the first person who raises their hand, students may be less inclined to participate because they’ll think they don’t stand a chance to give a proper response.

Develop Fewer, More Thought-Provoking Questions

Develop questions that challenge the students to give a thought-out response, rather than questions with a definite answer.  Use hypotheticals like “What if” or “How might” - The possibility of a discussion occurring is more likely.  Having an open forum for students to work through your questions, students might feel more involved to join the discussion.

Encourage Friendly Debates

Present an issue that raises a debate, and moderate the debate so that it remains a thoughtful, respectful exchange rather than an unnecessary argument. Examples of this include asking students to debate current affairs or historical events.  You can also ask questions relating to lessons you’re teaching by asking questions such as “Why do you think the character responded the way they did?”

Bridge the Knowledge Gap

All lessons start with direct instruction, but from there use a combination of guidance, self-direction and curiosity to inspire continued learning. By guiding a student to learn about a topic and helping them to realize that they are already knowledgeable about a subject, curiosity will kick in and will inspire students to learn more on their own.

You can also engage students by asking what they know about a topic, and then what they don’t know.  It could trigger them to start thinking about a topic from a different perspective and inspire them to figure out more

Make Students Realize Why the Lesson Benefits Them

When students realize that what they’re learning benefits them, they’ll take more of an interest in the lesson. When students ask “What’s in it for me?”, teachers can take advantage of this by explaining why and how the topic of discussion will benefit them in the real world.

Encourage Collaboration

Encouraging students to work in small groups improves their social skills, while also helping them learn about the topic being taught.  Engaging students through supportive, collaborative groups teaches students that they can work with others as well as help others to learn too.

Story via Edutopia

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