It’s a simple mathematical equation, but the effects are anything but simple.
Motivating students is one of the major challenges teachers face daily. Yet, I know when my students are engaged in learning they are more excited, motivated, perform better academically, show increased effort, and have less behavioral issues than the unengaged student.
Marzano stated four questions to measure engagement in my students.
- How does the student feel?
- Is the student interested?
- Is this important to the student?
- Can my student do this?
Using these four questions to guide my classes engagement helps me know when I need to change things up for my students. Below I have listed questions and activities that are for the most part, easy for me to implement at a moment’s notice.
How does the student feel?
This area includes the emotional student, intellectual student and physical student.
Is my pacing effective? Am I going too fast or too slow? Are my students lost or bored?
- One of my favorite methods to monitor students understanding is using whiteboards . Having students show what they are “getting” or “not getting” helps me know where to go with my instruction.
- I also like to take a simple class measurement with thumbs up, middle, or down for how they are feeling about the standard we are working on.
- Adding humor to a lesson pulls students into my lesson. Can this lesson relate to a funny quick story? A silly knock knock joke? Humor reduces stress for students and teachers alike.
- Do I have enthusiasm for this lesson? Sometimes, my students catch me when I say, “wait until you try this strategy, it’s my favorite”. My students say, “Mrs. Reed, you say that all the time about every strategy.” Oh well!
- Am I showing interest to my students? Did I talk to my students individually today? this week? I know when they know I care about them, they will care about what I am teaching.
Do my students look antsy, tired, sluggish or too full of energy? Can I add some movement to my lesson? Research says that the same part of the brain that processes movement also processes learning.
Here are a few ideas.
- Gallery Walks – After having my students write, draw, or build their responses to a group task, I have a Gallery Walk. Gallery Walk’s allow my students to go around the room and see other students’ responses. Gallery Walk
- Brain Breaks are a quick way to add movement for my students. Brain Break
- Use body movement to answer a question. For example, in a true false question, I have my students show a thumbs up for true and thumbs down for false.
Is the student interested?
Strategies to gain interest:
- Questioning-Using a deck of cards that I have dealt out at the beginning of class, I am ready to call on any student. This really helps students stay engaged, they never know who will be asked to comment.
- Use the 10:2 method. For every 10 minutes of instruction allow the students 2 minutes to process and respond to the instruction.
- Games-(here is a previous post I did on math games with resources) Students love games! Math Games
- Working with technology–My students are way digital savvy (yes, even at 10 years old). Tech engages students. Can I have my students make a graph, use an app or play a game that applies to the standard I’m working on?
- Mix up my schedule or activities.
- Add highlighters and post-it notes -can boost student participation.
Is this important to the student?
- Authentic Math tasks helps students to reflect, question, evaluate and make conjectures and connections with their teammates that produces student engagement. Here are my two favorite resources Illustrative Mathematics and Georgia Math.
- Project based learning -Here’s a previous post on project based learning. My students loved this! PBL
- Giving choices -Can I give my students a choice in a task or project? Freedom in how students complete assignments or projects engage students.
Can my student do this?
- Think-Pair-Share-This helps my students to pause and process what they have just learned. Sharing with their teammates what they have just learned will help them solidify the concept they are learning or add questions to their thinking.
- Collaborative pretests and assignments will add student confidence.
- Tracking progress over time. My students track how they do on their entry tasks overtime. They track effort and results on a 4-3-2-1- scale. I will know and work with students who perform below a 2.
That’s what I want for my students, to be engaged in both mind and body. I want lessons to matter to them as it does for me. When I plan for active participation and higher-order thinking from my students, I’m more likely to have an engaged student!