I once posed a question to students as an introduction to The Giver by Lois Lowry. “What would it take to make your world perfect?” The most common answer, no school! School can be boring for many students. Well, let me state that differently, the social aspect for students is the highlight of their school day. It's the sitting in class and the actual learning part that they would rather do without (go figure). Wouldn't it be great to push a button that allows students to obtain all knowledge? I wish I could just pour a fountain of smartness into the little darlings. Maybe in the next lifetime.
In their defense, I have observed classes where even I was ready to leave after just a few minutes. Boring! I felt the pain of the students who had to suffer through class periods like this on a daily basis. Then, there have been other classes where I’ve wanted to stay longer and even come back the next day! How do you distinguish your class from one that student consider boring, or maybe I’ll use a euphemism and say “dry?” I know, I know, every day, students can’t be hanging from the ceiling in fun, but can’t we aim at the majority of the time?
There are some students that no matter what you do, they are disengaged and inattentive to anything you have to teach. How many times have you spent purposeful hours putting together what you’ve considered, highly engaging lessons, only to realize that some students aren't as interested as you!
Let me see if I can help. Classes should always be student-centered! What lecture? If you are talking more than students, a shift is definitely needed.
We’ve all read books or watched a movie where it started off good and then you lost interest, or there have been times where a book or movie started off terrible and you have no idea how it ended because you couldn’t stand another minute of it. Your classroom shouldn’t mimic either of these. Make sure to keep lessons students focused. So how do you capture your students’ interest and maintain it?
Get them up and moving! Students would rather be out of their seat moving around versus sitting idle at their desk. For example, If students are participating in answering selected responses, put the answers around the class and allow them to rates around and defend their answer choice.
Encourage Collaboration Get them talking. Students are going to talk anyway. Why not channel what they are talking about. Use Cooperative Role Cards like the one found in my book Achieving Success in Inner-City Schools. Tasks are delegated and conversations are structured.
Keep them on their toes Stop allowing students to raise their hand. Use a random picker! When posing a question, allow students to collaborate with a partner and then use the random picker. Students have to stay ready.
Give them Choice Students need autonomy; this is how you strengthen the buy-in. Include a choice board. Like the ones, I found here.
Reward Students Whether you give students a sticker, a shout out, a call home, or a sweet treat, students like being recognized. Make sure to recognize students for a job well done. Don’t focus only on the ones who do everything right, but make sure to pay attention to those unlikely students who may be making gains.
Change the Scenery/Locations Have class in the Media Center or outdoors. Switch it up. Or, you can even change student seating to shake things up.
Solicit perspectives Students enjoy anytime they get to share their point of view, especially when a debate can pursue.
Allow Students to Present/Perform Craft fun activities where students can demonstrate their level of understanding. Whether they put it in speech-like format, a Prezi or Google Slide, or put it in song. Allow them to show what they know.
I hope these words find you well,
Purchase Achieving Success in Inner-City Schools: A Guide for New and Seasoned Teachers for more ideas!