Thursday, May 12, 2016

Keeping Students Engaged!

Learn, Know, Students, Chalk, Children  Our district is getting a new superintendent.  When the three finalists came out, we asked them questions.  One person asked if they could think outside the box to meet the needs of the students.  Two of them stated that the teachers need to make their lessons so students want to be there.  The third recognized that many of our students often miss school because they have to go home and babysit because their parents are working or leave town for a while.

We also have students who live in homes where they do not get enough sleep at night for a variety of reasons.  This has lead to a whole discussion on how do we create lessons that will keep them engaged while allowing them to learn the same material if they are in class everyday?  This is something we struggle with.

This site has five suggestions to personalize the lessons so students are more engaged and perhaps relate to the material.  The first is to personalize the material by making it into a story.  Create a hockey player when you are teaching probability is one example.  The second thing is to open with a hook.  I'll be honest, I have trouble with the idea of creating a hook. It is recommended that the hook reappear throughout the lesson in different forms.

Third is to emphasize your main points and make sure the main points appear throughout the lesson.  Fourth is to choose images over words.  Use diagrams, arrows, images, color coding, to connect ideas to visual reminders.  I love SmartBoards and computers because they allow me to easily create this type of presentation.  Finally, don't forget the why of the math being taught.  Take time to explain why they are learning this material.

Harvard Graduate School of Education strongly recommends that students be exposed to multiple approaches because comparing methods or approaches helps students thing about what works in addition to how and why it works. In addition, they have created materials that expose students to multiple approaches to certain problems.  The material is done in a cartoon format so its more enjoyable for students to do.  

These materials are from Temple university and have 11 chapters available on line to download and use.  It covers topics from order of operations to systems of equations to quadratics.  I like the material because it has everything needed to use and is set up to encourage conversation among students who work in groups.  I plan to download and use these next year.  The files are pdf and can be used with the SmartBoard.