What really motivates students to learn? That is a hard question to answer and may vary from student to student. However, studies show that student engagement is the key piece for motivating students to learn. Student engagement is defined as the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught. Do all of your students exhibit these characteristics? Probably not all, but here are a few ways to help motivate your students to learn and keep students actively engaged in the classroom.
Activity speaks louder than words. I'm a visual learner. I learn by watching someone do it. An environment that requires just listening skills is not the best classroom for me to learn. Let's make the learning stick by providing interactive student engagement activities in the classroom. If we want the learning to stick, we must have the students do the "learning and the doing" and less teacher driven "stand and deliver" lessons.
Check out this SCOOT activity by the second grade teachers. I have 10 second grade classrooms. Each classroom studied one or two of the 13 colonies during social studies this week. The information was studied in class and posted outside the classroom. The other classrooms "scooted" through the halls to learn more about the other 13 colonies. At the end of the week, each student left with a 13 colonies fact book.
Student engagement sounds hard and time consuming. However, it can be as time consuming as you make it. I have included 30 easy ways to increase student participation. It requires little prep and can be implemented with ease. The bottom line is that students learn more when they are actively involved in the lesson and have opportunities to think about and apply what they have learned.
My new motto: Prevention vs. Intervention
As educators, let's prevent our students from needing intervention by adding techniques in the classroom to help students retain the information and take ownership of their learning.
It's not difficult to engage students and it doesn't take much work. It may require the teacher to put more structure in place and plan lessons in a different way. Just think if all teachers all over the world implemented just one activity to engage their students our schools would be dynamic. However, consistent use of interactive engagement activities could reduce dropouts and the failure rate of students. Now that is powerful!