A version of this post was published in TeachThought.
When you think back to your school years, you probably remember those teachers who made classes interesting. They would always find a way to make even the dullest lessons captivating. They’d put on a voice or reach out for their different “acting hats” just to get a positive reaction from their students.
After all, engaging classes are about the teacher. No matter where learning takes place, you can transform your lessons into an adventure that will spark students’ interest and keep them focused for a lot longer than you’d expect.
A while ago, flashy props and chunky textbooks were among the most popular teaching aids. However, once technology came into play, it improved the teaching experience considerably.
The elements that make lessons more engaging
Let’s have a look at some strategies that you can implement into your classes to make them more engaging:
1. Gamify the learning process
If we were to use two words to describe games, they would be related to “fun” and “engagement.” Students of all ages love games and everything that gives them a purpose. Games make it easy to remember previously learned concepts and access that information whenever they need it.
Instead of just clicking through learning materials aimlessly, they’ll enjoy a lot more being rewarded with points and badges for their learning efforts, and you’ll notice how online participation rates are increasing. By gamifying your classes, you’re motivating students and make them more interested in learning.
The fun part is that you can create games based on students’ interests. You could include names from popular movies or TV series. For example, the game level could have the following names: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, etc.
2. Count on collaboration
While school is a serious matter, this doesn’t mean that students should be quiet at all times during class. Of course, some students don’t mind being loud and expressing their ideas in any context, but it’s important to consider introverted students as well.
The easiest way to go about this is to divide the class into multiple groups. Use your judgment to determine who will work well together. Giving them a break from solo bookwork and pairing them with their friends makes them excited for the task.
The same can happen during online learning. Divide the class into Zoom breakout rooms, give them something to work on, and check regularly.
3. Include VR in your classes
Young learners should be encouraged to express their creativity, and VR tools are just what you need for that. Since there are no physical barriers, students get a chance to explore all parts of the world without leaving the class. They could “climb” the highest peak in the world, take a virtual trip to a famous museum, check out the inside of the White House, and a lot more.
Thanks to a VR headset, students can fully immerse themselves in a subject. The equipment can be purchased for a few dollars, and there are plenty of useful VR apps that you can pick from.
Everyone will be excited to take turns and explore something new and exciting. Although this doesn’t feel like work, kids learn a lot, become more ambitious, and limit distractions when studying.
4. Give students a voice
Educators know that their students’ contributions are vital to the learning process, yet they don’t give them many chances to speak. By prioritizing student voices in your classes, you’ll get input directly from them, make them more interested in their learning, and strengthen relationships, among others.
Try to get to know your students better and show them that you value who they are by asking about their lives. When checking their work, do this in small groups or individually so they feel comfortable answering your questions.
When asking for student feedback, they understand how powerful their voices are when learning or changing the class.
5. Change the format of your class
You don’t need to read countless studies to understand that students find it challenging to concentrate for long periods. The younger they are, the more difficult it is to engage them throughout the class.
To make things easier to digest, you could break your classes into smaller chunks or flip the classroom and let your students take the lead. For example, an hour of teaching could comprise an icebreaker followed by a short introduction. For the central part of the lesson, you could show students a video and start a debate based on it afterward.
You don’t always need to follow the same pattern. It’s more important to find a structure that works well for your students.
Read more: Exploring 4 types of Flipped Learning
Many teachers have a hard time when it comes to creating engaging lessons. However, using edtech tools and creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable makes this aspect less challenging. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach and students are all so different, teachers can make minor tweaks to these strategies along the school year for a better experience.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.