Thursday, March 07, 2019

Do I have to???.....................Yes, you get to! Student Engagement

Teachers wonder why students are not engaged, not participating, and not interested.  Why do I have to know this? How is this important to me? Two questions heard so often from students.

We try to get them to see that it is important. We spend time trying to find connections, things they can relate to, and ways to peak their curiosity.

Personally, I have spent the last three months specifically looking at hooking my students. When it comes to writing, we teach students that our introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention. We want to hook the reader into reading the story. The first couple sentences, works to grab the reader’s attention. So I have made it a personal goal to take those first few minutes of class, my introduction, to hook my students into learning. I want them to be as excited and as interested in the content as me. And I know that science is not for everyone, but we encounter science and live in science all the time.  I deeply believe that students should understand that science affects them daily. I strive to bring real world connections to my students all the time. Even with a connection, I still feel like I have my work cut out for me. Just making a connection doesn’t do it for everyone. I try to get their brain thinking, once their curiosity peaks, then I have them hooked!

A few units ago we were learning about Mitosis. We watched a video in class called “The Unknown World” which helped build awareness and allowed students to start making connections. The next class while still learning about mitosis, I posted this statement on the board:

I had a visual representation of what this statement looked like (bags of sugar).

That student that is usually completely disengaged, had his eyes glued and was in aww of the amount of skin cells being lost. His response was, “gross, where does that go?” Another student said, “Which part of our body do you think we lose most of our skin cells?” Another said, “dead skin cells make up dust, EWWW!?!” And another said, “I get it! If we lose all these cells you want us to connect Mitosis because it is the process to reproduce, replace and repair.”  YES, YES, YES! We are making connections, we are asking relevant questions, and we are thinking. Mission accomplished, hooked!

Dave Burgess is popular for his book, Teach Like a PIRATE. It offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help teachers to increase student engagement and boost creativity. Dave believes engagement hooks are powerful and success is based on your willingness to relentlessly search for what engages students in the classroom and then having the guts to do it. The following link has a poster of the Pirate Hooks used by Dave.

I have read many articles and there seems to be many things that disengage students; factors we can control and factors that we can’t control. We are not miracle workers but we do what we can. We give those kiddos every opportunity they can to be successful.  We try to help them overcome those barriers and provide rich inquisitive learning opportunities.

Twitter Chat Questions Tuesday, March 12th:

Q1: What factors prevent your students from engaging during class?
Q2: How do you involve all your students?
Q3: Name a strategy that you have found useful in helping increase student
Q4: What kinds of ideas have you used to hook your students?

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