Sustaining Student Engagement in Winter

How has the pandemic affected your students?  What topics are your students interested in learning about?  What activities do your students enjoy?  How can teachers increase student engagement in lessons?

These are all questions to consider when trying to keep students engaged in your lessons this winter.  Winter creates an opportunity to reassess student interest and adjust instruction accordingly.  Creating a Culture of Learning, Edutopia by Angela DiMichele Lalor, suggests beginning with focusing on the students as the first step in creating deeply engaging learning activities for students.  Lessons that are relevant to student interest and appropriately challenging will engage students.  Gather information and feedback from your students.  Ask students to complete an inventory of questions to assess their current interests.  Students’ interests may have changed or be different in winter from the beginning of the school year.  Take time and be intentional to provide opportunities for students to share their interest, hobbies, and topics they would like to learn.  That information can be used to create relevant lessons that students will be interested in and willing to deeply engage in.

Are you giving your students choice and voice in your lessons?  What skills are your students’ strengths?  Student choice is a powerful tool.  When students can choose an activity, their investment is increased.  Choice in how to demonstrate learning is an opportunity for students to allow their strengths to shine.  Could you provide student learning product possibilities for a variety of learning styles?  Could options include an artistic product?  A verbal product?  A technology product?  Choice opportunities allow students to share their strengths while learning new skills.  Cult of Pedagogy has some great examples of how to offer student choice in assignments.  Link to example student activities by learning style.

Below are some additional possibilities of ways to increase student engagement to any lesson:

  • Games (in person or computer)
  • Student leadership 
  • Collaboration
  • Music
  • Technology
  • Physical movement
  • Student chosen topic or product

The last couple of years of pandemic have been super challenging for teachers and students alike.  Many changes in education have occurred.  Reflect on the changes and create new innovative ways to use the changes to engage students.  Could you incorporate blended learning projects that utilize both in-person, hands-on learning along with a technology component?  As a collective group, teachers are the MOST creative people.  Let’s use that creativity power to continue to engage students deeply in their learning!

Contributor – Lori Best, UNC-Wilmington

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