How to Engage Students

3 Strategies for How to Engage Students No one likes a dull classroom. It’s harder to teach and even harder to learn. We want to help teachers crack the classic puzzle of how to engage students.   1. Sell the Lesson   One of the most common questions teachers will get at both K-8 and High School levels is: Why do I need to know this? When will I ever need to use this skill? And this makes sense. The students value their time just like all of us and if they don’t think your lesson will help them in life, why should they raise their hand and ask questions or engage instead of thinking about lunch?   So the first strategy is  to sell your lesson to them in a similar fashion as to how businesses sell products. This sounds strange at first, why would I try to sell something to my students? But if you have an iPhone, you didn’t just buy it because Apple said, “Look, here’s an iPhone 5!”. Instead they said, “You can take amazing pictures and videos and always stay connected!” So give examples in how you’ve personally used this knowledge, and  in math, make case problems instead of plain numbers and in history try showing how similar events are happening now.   2. Let Students Help Each other   If you’ve had a really engaged class throughout the semester or even for the day, let them start doing in-class assignments together. Sometimes students are afraid to ask too  many questions during a lecture or while working individually, but when they have the chance to work with their peers they are much more comfortable asking for help. This can be even more [...]

Student Engagement: Back to Basics

It’s hard to teach in a barely engaged classroom  and it’s even harder to learn. Here are 5 tips on how to increase student engagement. You might already know these, but are you doing them?   1.       Create Curiosity  It’s what killed the cat: curiosity is an essential driver for deeper understanding. It’s the same reason why Google and Wikipedia are so popular- curiosity creates a deep need for understanding therefore motivating us to seek out and understand the answer. By tapping into students’ natural curiosity, you can increase student engagement in the material being presented. Incorporating elements of mystery can incite curiosity within students.  “Why do Earthquakes happen?” or “What killed all the dinosaurs?” – allow students to work in small groups to uncover the answers allowing them to explore their own curiosity and autonomy Present a broad topic like ‘Space’- Give students 5-10 minutes to ask any questions they’ve had regarding that topic and answer them or incorporate those topics into the lesson   2.       Make it Fun Have you ever gone to a professional development day consisting solely of sessions and speakers telling you what you ‘need’ to know or just watched CNN? During those 8 hours of presentations, power points, and speeches- how do you feel? Nobody likes to be talked at for 8 hours. Find ways to inject fun into the lessons. Students are more likely to remain engaged if they are having fun and have the opportunity to participate. Find ways for students to get up and get moving. Here’s some ideas! Use games to get students thinking about the material. Create the opportunity for students to explore the material in different creative ways with presentations, group breakouts, and projects. [...]

Students’ Success: Do Parents Have Any Affect, At All?

Decades of research have shown that parental involvement in the classroom is an important indicator of students’ academic success. In ”Parental Effort, School Resources, and Student Achievement,” which appeared in the spring 2008 issue of the Journal of Human Resources, parental involvement is shown to have a strong and positive effect on student achievement. Schools would have to spend more than $1,000 per student to create the same effect. Teachers, schools, and Parent-teacher organizations should begin implementing techniques for encouraging parent participation both at home and in the classroom. Offering some incentives and metrics for success can help achieve this desired motivation.  It can incite parents into voluntary action by creating an environment where parents, like students, are recognized and rewarded for their participation. There is a substantial amount of evidence that game mechanics (rules or constructs designed to produce game or game play) are extremely effective at increasing motivation. Badges have been created to incite action and engagement based off psychology’s incentive motivation theory which suggests that people are motivated to act by external rewards. Nothing is intrinsically motivating about a badge in and of itself but the meaning of the badge gives it significance and currency. The badges provide social and psychological rewards for users, in this case parents, which can be highly motivating and rewarding within their social environment. The desire for social approval will entice users to act due to the promise of public recognition and social currency within the parental environment. Schools, teachers, and Parent organizations can use Youtopia to engage, motivate and track parental involvement. Create challenges and activities that parents can complete for points and badges. These activities can include helping in the classroom, planning parties, creating teaching tools, parking duty, [...]

Wanted: revenue. Youtopia reward-badge system looks for answers

Thanks to the Chicago Tribune and their Blue Sky Innovation team for the great article in today’s Chicago Tribune. Wanted: revenue. Youtopia reward-badge system looks for answers      

Youtopia named by The Challenge Cup as one of Chicago’s Hottest Education Startups