I have been fortunate to work with many extraordinary educators over the years. To be honest, I sometimes wonder who learns more from the lessons they’ve created – the students, or me. These experiences have given me a whole new perspective on the world of education. In particular, I’ve witnessed how many educators tailor their lessons to promote student engagement while fostering curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. So, what’s the secret to a successful lesson?
Well, as every good educator knows, there isn’t one. Every teacher is unique, as is every student. What works for one may not work for another. However, there are several strategies a teacher can use to cut through student apathy and inspire them to connect with the day’s content. These are the keys to approaching any student who finds themselves struggling with the given lesson.
Here are the 5 keys to creating an engaging lesson:
If you want students to think critically, ask them questions worthy of their time. One way to engage apathetic students is by starting your lesson with an inquiry. Rather than introducing a topic, present them with a problem: “Why do the days get shorter in winter?” or “How can we disagree without being disagreeable?” Your students won’t become experts overnight, but you show them the benefits of thinking critically.
Give students a reason to collaborate. You can emphasize this approach by having students provide feedback to their peers on assignments. This generates new ideas and can highlight contrasting viewpoints. By taking time to develop relationships and rapport, you will give your students the skills to work effectively in the long run.
Connect with Technology
While some of us still remember the days when computers were just making their introduction, today’s students have never been more plugged in. Many websites, YouTube channels, and podcasts can offer valuable resources on a variety of educational topics. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, oversees a range of educational content on his CrashCourse channel. Meanwhile, Overly Sarcastic Productions offers a fun, campy take on history, literature, and the humanities. Sometimes a little flare is all that’s needed to get students invested.
Not every question has a single answer. Encourage students to discover alternative ways to solve their problems. If the day’s assignment is to use stray materials for channeling electricity into a light bulb, don’t just have the students find one solution, ask them to find three. After that, discuss how they would incorporate electricity into a subject like art or social studies. Pushing students to find new answers will also encourage them to think outside the box.
Global awareness is quickly becoming a part of daily life. As such, it’s important to give students a broader view of the world as they learn. If students are studying electricity, ask them why outlets and plugs look different in different areas of the world. Test them to see which countries use the most electricity and why that might be. Expand this with questions like, “what are common foods in Italy?”, “Why are they common and how nutritious are they?” The world is getting smaller, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing for your class.