Last week I wrote about the importance of greeting students as they entered your classroom. Now once they’re in your class, how do you hook them?
Within the first minute or two of a TV show, we’ve made a decision: Is this show worth watching or not?
The first few minutes of class are no different; students know whether the lesson will be engaging.
To inspire and engage students in learning avoid these engagement killers
- I’m going to come around and check your homework.
- Read through the roster to take attendance. Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, for example, only introduce the contestants after game play has started.
- Give a graded quiz (students who do poorly may shut down).
- Read announcements. Could you imagine a television show starting with the credits?
When students walk into your classroom their curiosity should be piqued and their imaginations stimulated. Excite them.
Six simple ways to energize your lessons
- Ask students to make a guess or a prediction. We kill the love of learning by simply giving the answer. By asking the question first, students will be motivated to find the answers. I observed a science class where the teacher had posted a picture of a robin’s eggs on the projector. Individually students were asked to hypothesize, why are robin eggs blue? Every student was hooked. They wanted to know the answer.
- A two or three minute video clip can effectively introduce a topic or plant in their minds what they’re about to learn. The brevity of news stories lends themselves perfectly to this.
- Give students a prop as they enter your classroom. These can be elaborate or simple. A math teacher gave students a golf ball and asked them to count the number of dimples (he later showed them a way to accurately figure it out using math and not simply counting). A world history teacher gave students a piece of paper with a role that the students would assume throughout the class. Students were hooked.
- In a BYOD classroom, post a QR code for students to scan.
- Use art or music as a prompt. Ask students to respond to a song or artwork or have them create a drawing of their own.
- Have students respond to a controversial statement.
As an educator your success depends on your ability to engage students. If students aren’t hooked at the start of the lesson, chances are they won’t be engaged at the middle or end. Strive to start each class with an activity that will energize your students and inspire them to learn.
What are some of your favorite ways to hook and engage students?
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Reed is a longtime educator and coach, who is passionate about progressive learning and 21st-century assessment practices. Read more of his work here. "I'm a co-moderator of #VAchat, a Twitter conversation for Virginia (and non-Virginian) educators that meets Monday's at 8 ET. Most importantly, I'm a father of four wonderful children and a couple grandchildren. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, sports and, of course, spending time with family."