Engage your students. Don’t just stick your toe in the water! Jump right in with relevant, active learning. As students engage in learning activities, classroom climate improves, discipline problems decline, and you begin to really enjoy teaching. Let’s take a look at some ways you can make your teaching more engaging.
Reading Great Books
- Novel Studies – Select books you love to teach reading skills. Grab some ideas for teaching a class novel here.
- Read-Alouds – Read out loud to kids of any age (or have them take turns reading to one another). Read Aloud America has some great book suggestions for K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
- Books for Special Occasions – Pull out picture books, novels, or nonfiction for holidays and/or commemorations.
- Books to Link Content – Try some interdisciplinary learning. Connect literature and nonfiction to math, social studies, and/or science.
- Free Books – Grab free literature from Project Gutenberg, iTunes, or Amazon.
Pulling Poetry & Plays Off the Paper
- Poetry – Poetry was meant to be heard. Engage your students (and yourself!) by reading poetry aloud. Now it’s your students’ turn! Let them read it, live it, perform it. Poets.org offers these tips for teaching poetry.
- Drama – Kids love acting. If you want to have some fun with drama, let them perform a play. Even if it’s just assigning roles and reading aloud, getting active brings a play to life. Check out We Are Teachers’ 8 Steps to Successful Classroom Readers Theater.
Engaging Students in Writing
- Teaching Writing – Gather ideas from the National Writing Project. Their 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing will get you started.
- Writing Across the Curriculum – Ask students to write in any subject. They can explain math problems, give opinions in social studies, research scientific phenomena, and more!
- Writing for Special Occasions (or Any Occasion) – Letters, poetry, petitions, pamphlets . . . you name it! Take advantage of every opportunity to get your students writing.
Making Math Meaningful – No one says or does it better than the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). You can find lesson plans, mobile games, interactives, and brain teasers on their website, Illuminations. NCTM has also joined with NASA to bring you PUMAS (Practical Uses of Math and Science).
Getting Involved in Science
- Scientific Inquiry – Let your students learn by doing, not just listening and reading. When students use inquiry-based science, learning becomes authentic and engagement skyrockets.
- The Design Process – Engineering is the in-thing to do in K-12 classrooms! Kids of all ages are learning about the engineering design process. This year, I’ll take my fourth graders through 10 simple STEM design challenges.
Making Social Studies Real
- Skits & Presentations – Put the “social” back in social studies! Ask kids to act out events in history or present the lives of famous people in first person.
- Problem-Based Learning – Start with a problem in history or society. Have students list what they know and what they need to know. Then ask them to conduct research to discover what they need to know. Finally, invite students to solve the problem and communicate the results to an audience.
- Civic Action – Kids have opinions too! As a part of their civics instruction, allow students to voice those opinions through letters to the editor or politician, service learning, government simulations, or civic campaigns.
As Confucius said, “I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” When you engage your students in learning, they will understand, and you will begin to enjoy teaching.