Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Keep Kids Engaged in Class

This article was a collection of ideas to keep students engaged for the duration of a lesson. Since 7th graders have about a 12 minute attention span, I have found that it is indeed imperative to change activities in the task / lesson to keep students motivated. The author cited four levels of student motivation. From low to high they are, "the work avoiders", "the halfhearted workers", "responsible students" and lastly, "fully active learners". By including a variety of general pupose and content specific activites teachers can increase the likelihood of accommodating more learning styles in their lessons.

The two ideas that appealed to me the most were, start class with a Mind Warm-Up and How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success. I think the first, Mind Warm-Up, could be used for bellwork, or for a closure activity to check for understanding or even as a test review. Small groups of students work together to find errors in work posted or projected on the board. Groups raise their hands when they think they have found all the mistakes. When the first group signals they are done, give a little more time, then on the count of three all teams indicate the number of errors they found in the work. I would have them write this on a small white board. The group that finds the most, describes its answers until another group politely disagrees or until they are finished.

The second idea, How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success, reminded me of the energy efficient structure activity we did at our first session. I plan to use this as an opening activity during the first week of my exploratory third and fourth quarter. Each team of students get the following supplies to build the tallest free standing tower in 20 minutes: a pair of scissors, two sheets of paper, ten paper clips, and a 10 inch piece of tape. Time is taken to debrief and to allow teams to observe and make constructive comments on the resulting structures.

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