My Problem: As I teach a class, I often look out into the audience (or my students) for reactions to my lessons. Sometimes, I see students who can’t wait to come to class and brag about the fun things we are doing in class. Or I hear crickets with students’ eyelids drooping and a lack of participation. How do I get students to be excited and bragging about what we are doing in science on a daily basis? How do I get students engaged?
The Audience: In this problem, there are two audiences. First, there are the 7th and 8th graders that I teach. But there is also me, the teacher.
The Root Cause: By asking myself “why” I realized many different reasons for a lack of engagement. Students may be tired from staying up all night due to worrying, playing a video game, or just talking to their friends. Students may not see the material as relevant to their day-to-day lives or see a disconnect as to how they will use this in the future. Also, many of my middle schoolers would rather talk to their friends than learn about single-celled and multi-celled organisms. Finally, the material could be too hard or too easy which is leaving them feeling disengaged and see the learning as pointless.
My Point of View/My Direction: I believe that I can make my classroom engaging on a day-to-day basis. I can do this by incorporating lessons that are differentiated for students to help engage them at their level. A second strategy would be to incorporate technology with daily “reading time” where each student uses a tablet to find an article that relates to something they are interested in and what we are learning in class. This will allow them to see a bigger connection and could be incorporated through weekly “mini-lessons”. Third, by including students in the learning process by sharing the standard they must learn and asking them what they want to learn. Lessons could be tailored to what they are interested in learning about and help students be engaged.