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12 20 photo collage.pngAre your students engaged or just entertained?  Wait, there’s a difference? Yes! Engagement is active learning where as entertainment is a passive activity.  With the end of the year weeks away, how can you eek out any sort of learning let alone engagement? There are many ideas educators can use to engage students. Today, I will focus on my top three ways to increase engagement anytime of year (especially at the end of the school year).

1.Get outside

Recently, a post suggests ways to get outside for learning’s sake. Yes, it can be a great learning experience. I recently observed a fourth grade class doing a geometry project outside. They were taking pictures of different shapes that they would use later to create a slide show.  I asked one student what they were doing? She said, “our math lesson!”

Set clear expectations while still inside
Take everything you need with you
Set a timer and loud enough for all to hear

2. Capitalize on Student Interests

My favorite research projects are interest driven.  Students can select the topic themselves! I have written a previous post describing this in detail. By using tools like Big Universe, my students can select books to help them with current topics.  Before, this has always been a problem not it is fun to see what my students will come up with. My one criteria: they MUST use a book!

Set clear expectations for the class period
Use a graphic organizer to help with note taking

3. Self-Paced Programs

Using a “badge” type method is a great way to engage students. I recently attended a technology workshop that used this strategy.  Basically, it is a computerized way for marking off a checklist. Students need to complete certain tasks before advancing to the next, but allows them to work at their own pace. For me, I was motivated and can definitely see my students enjoy this way of learning.

Familiarize yourself with online programs such as Open Badges and read Digital Badges on Big Universe By Shauna Masura ISBN: 9781624312090

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From the publisher, “Digital badges offer a new way of showing off some of your most impressive accomplishments. Readers will discover new processes, integrate visual information with text, and learn technical word meanings as they find out how digital badges work and how to begin earning them. They will also find out how to create and award badges of their own to people who accomplish amazing tasks.”

Next week, I will be back with more ideas to help you engage your students during the last weeks of school.  In the meantime, we love to hear from our readers.  What strategies do you use with your students to increase engagement?

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