I am realizing more and more that my students need to actively engage with the content to really understand it and learn it. If I don't have them doing something, writing something, or creating something, they are passively checking out during class. I would guess, on average, I can keep their attention for about 5 minutes max if they aren't producing evidence of their learning and understanding. It makes sense - they are so used to the fast paced lives they live full of technology and activity that they struggle to focus when they aren't required to participate and produce! Here are a few strategies I have been using in my classroom to increase student engagement:
1.) CLEARBOARDS - I often ask students questions during class that I want them to answer but they almost never write their answers down on a scrap piece of paper near them. I often have them discuss their thoughts/answers and then write their answer on a clearboard. This is a great way to quickly assess learning and make sure all students are participating, plus it allows every student to have an answer ready to share with the class (bonus, no more "I don't know" as an answer when called on because it is right there in front of them!!). Students like the appeal of a marker and something new to write on which results in more participation.
2.) INTERACTIVE NOTE PAGES - I don't know about you but my students that usually need to take notes don't like taking notes and they often refuse to do it. I do my best to find different, fun ways to take notes and I try to keep it short. It is so important for struggling students to hear it, see it, write it, and do it (to appeal to all their different senses/learning styles - auditory, visual, kinesthetic) Interactive note pages keep it short and sweet, and allow for a visually appealing place to take their notes. I found this strategy to be very helpful when we learned slope in Algebra 1. I am finding that students are pulling this sheet out of their folders and they are putting it on their desk to refer to during work time - awesome!!
3.) PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES - By having students create or do something, like build a ramp and have a toy car race to see which car gets to the bottom of their ramp the fastest, I am able to constantly refer back to this activity as we look at graphs and discuss slope. The more connections students can make between other experiences/things and math the better!!
What strategies are you using and finding to be successful in increasing student engagement in your classroom? I would love to hear your ideas and successes!!