A couple of weeks ago in ‘Festive Teaching Ideas for You’, we shared some Christmas-themed activities to keep students engaged. But trying to keep them interested throughout the year requires a lot more effort. Educators may already have tried things like bringing props to class or using apps like Kahoot, but there are many other things parents and teachers can do to get students excited about learning.
Immerse yourself in their interests
Every new generation develops their own hobbies and interests. These days, children may enjoy building games in Roblox or reading weekly Marvel comics. Adults may have some trouble understanding the appeal of these activities, but doing so could prove to be an advantage later on.
Having to explain something to a child can be difficult sometimes. They may find it difficult to grasp the concept, but using examples they can relate to could solve this problem. Trying to explain history or science by making references to things the child finds interesting, will increase their level of attention. It will also keep them motivated, putting additional effort into understanding the lesson.
Showing excitement for their discoveries
Going to school means students have to study topics chosen by someone else. However, children frequently develop their own interests. Especially if they have a habit of visiting the library or researching specific topics on the internet. As a result, children may find themselves immersed in seemingly random topics, like the world of reptiles or their favourite sports team.
Teresa Dickey, a recipient of the Sarah D. Barber Fellowship, recommends showing excitement for the child's discoveries, especially when they have spent some time reading and learning about them. Rewarding autonomous learning is an excellent way to turn studying into an intrinsically engaging activity, eventually transforming them into self-motivated students.
When we think about how to keep students engaged, we tend to come up with complex solutions. Sometimes, however, something as simple as finding a fun way to congratulate a student may keep them motivated.
With a focus on reaching and engaging with children in underserved communities in East Africa and India, Bridge International and its instructors have come up with a way to excite young students that is brilliant in its simplicity: a cheer!
After each activity, those who worked hard are presented with a specially prepared cheer by the rest of the class. As a result, students feel better for supporting their peers. They also feel motivated to pay attention and improve so they may get a cheer on the next activity.
Educators tend to avoid using video games. And who can blame them? Older educational games were notorious for failing at both being fun and facilitating learning. But times have changed.
Today, there are excellent educational games and apps available. Students can use Google Street View to visit historical sites virtually or learn about resource management and history while playing Age of Empires. Teachers can gamify their lessons by creating their own games in Quizizz and Baamboozle. We may not always have the time to build a lesson around these tools, but when we do, students' attitudes will change considerably.
Making a single child interested in a specific topic may not be hard. But keeping a group of children motivated about different topics, day after day, requires a lot of patience and creativity. Using proven techniques from experienced educators, and familiarising ourselves with the different tools available, we can keep our students motivated throughout the whole year.
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