How to Keep Students Engaged

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With the rise of ADHD diagnoses and declining test scores, it is more imperative than ever to ensure students are actively digesting the material they learn in class. The apathetic and unmotivated student can be an educator's worst nightmare. The following post is a comprehensive guide for fellow instructors and parents to learn about how to keep students engaged  in their education, compiled from my own experience and outside research. Some of these tips may work better for younger children, but mostly they provide a great foundation for students of all ages. Let's get to it!

1) Passive Learning Can Create Passive Learners. Passive learning is a traditional instructional style in which students merely take a compendium of notes while the teacher lectures. The bell rings, the students leave, and all of the day's lessons remain stowed safely away in a notebook, only to be viewed again during exam season. Now, some students are great active listeners, but the reality is students are either too busy feverishly recording the lecture to actually digest the information being thrown at them, or the wave of new knowledge inundates them and they spend the class in a daze, unable to get a word in edgewise. In the higher grades, this teaching style is necessary to impart the necessary material required for the course, but all things in moderation I say. And especially for students below the age of 14, an alternate teaching style that facilitates classroom discussions, group activities, and in-class assignments is much more conducive for the retention of new information. One solution? Check out private schools that offer concept-based learning.

2) Get Active. Especially for younger students, it is inevitable: kids get the jitters! Why do you think Sweden gives its students free time every hour for 15 minutes? Because it works! It dramatically improves a child's concentration and demonstrably affects their engagement in the classroom in a positive manner. Now, this is not something you are going to find in North American public schools. I think in Ontario especially the educational status quo needs a reform on this matter, especially since many elementary schools have eliminated their second recess (the second 15-minute break that used to occur after lunch). But I am proud to say that at St. Jude's Academy, students are not only allowed, but encouraged, to move around the classroom to support physical health. And it does help.

3) Change Up the Classroom Environment or Seating Plan. This is a good technique because it represents a simple and manageable change that will help keep students engaged. Sitting next to a new classmate every month in a different desk or in a rearranged classroom helps prevent stagnation. A new physical perspective might actually result in a new mental perspective!

These are just three of my top tips for now. If you are interested in reading more, I can publish a second post with even more ways to help keep students engaged in the classroom. Thanks for reading!



References and Other Great Resources:

http://www.edutopia.org/classroom-student-participation-tips
http://archive.brookespublishing.com/articles/ed-article-0212.htm
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/29/five-key-strategies-to-getkeep-kids-engaged-at-school/
http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/mcdonald/mcdonald007.shtml
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/how-finland-keeps-kids-focused/373544/



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