It is Monday morning. The teacher has been talking for over ten minutes in his monotonous voice. The subject is boring, who likes to discuss Shakespeare for more than two classes, let alone two whole units. I opened my thick Norton Anthology, put my head on the book and started snoozing.
It is a classic example of a disengaged student and be honest, we have all been there. Throughout the years, I have discovered I am more a practical learner and I do not well in long monotonous lectures. I lose interest in the subject, my attention span will shrink to that of a goldfish, and the minutes spent on social media are increasing throughout the lecture.
There are ways to engage students in your classroom. Interactive learning will increase the students’ engagement since you are using technology that interests students. Writing blogs, creating Youtube videos or creating picture collages are common day technologies which you can use for assessments. Using these technologies will develop students’ creativity, language and technological capabilities. You are both incorporating your students’ interests as well as the requirements from the government to improve their ICT and literacy skills.
Another way to increase the students’ engagement is to make the material relevant. Some teachers opt for introducing the subject and explaining why we teach this – ‘because it is in the curriculum’ is not regarded as a correct answer by the students. Other teachers use a more practical approach. In a Task-Based Language Teaching approach, students are presented with their final task. The teacher will question them; ‘what do we need for this?’ ‘Which steps do we need to take before we can do that final task?’ This will make the content of the lessons immediately relevant. Students will no longer ask why they are learning this specific content since every classroom activity will work towards that final task.
Obviously, there are many other ways to engage your students. Scaffolding the material, using real-life setting, think-pair-share strategies, jigsaw, and giving feedback are techniques to increase your students’ participation in class. In the end, it all depends on your students. As said often, each student is different and they all learn in their own manner.
© Kirsten Bos, Miss Bos, 2017