What Does it Take to Engage Students in the Classroom?

Chrissie Wywrot is a freelance writer and social media expert with focuses on LinkedIn profile development and blogging. She is also an advocate for The ChadTough Foundation which raises funds and awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. Learn more about Chrissie and her business at chrissiewywrot.com.

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By Chrissie Wywrot

engage students

At the core of personalized learning is the willingness to embrace unconventional teaching methods, something Kathy Perez encourages in order to engage students in the classroom. After all, what good is quality content if the method through which it is being conveyed isn’t working?

Perez gave a lecture as part of a conference through Learning & the Brain — an organization that brings together neuroscientists and educators to collaborate on learning. She offered 20 strategies for motivating reluctant learners, which included throwing paper balls, voting, playing popcorn, and continually changing the “state” of the classroom.

“Sitting through her workshop presentation was like being a student in her classroom,” writes Katrina Schwartz, who covered the presentation for the Mind/Shift education blog on kqed.org. “She presents on how to make the classroom engaging and motivating to all students, even the most reluctant learners, while modeling for her audience exactly how she would do it.”

They purpose behind Perez’s methods is to keep the mind stimulated throughout the day. She explains that the average attention span is approximately one minute per year in age, though that is a highly-debated topic. Some consider the average attention span to be 10-15 minutes while others believe it is 2-5 minutes per year in age.

The bottom line is that educators must stimulate the minds of their students, something growing more and more difficult considering the technology currently available to kids. Educators have to be careful not to get stuck in a single method of teaching, instead offering a variety of activities that will accommodate all students and their learning styles.

That doesn’t mean turning the focus to fun at the expense of learning. The primary goal is to engage students in order to pull reluctant students out of their shells. That frequently includes encouraging students to teach and talk to one another instead of only relying on a teacher-centered, lecture model.

Curious whether Schwartz had to dodge paper balls as part of the presentation? Read the full story to find out.


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