Public Relations Today

5 Strategies to Keep Students Engaged Outside the Classroom

Eliana Osborn wrote this on Nov 10, 2014

engaging-outside-classHave you ever had an amazing lesson with everyone getting it, but the next day you try to review and are met with blank stares?  Such a painful moment as a teacher.  Adding in a few tricks to get students thinking about their schoolwork the other 23 hours of the day can help.  It might feel weird to add in activities outside your comfort zone, but simple tweaks can make a big difference in how students retain and engage with your class content.

  1. 9:05 Homework: The point of homework is to reinforce what you teach during the day; students who do it in the hallway before class aren’t really accomplishing that goal. Instead, assign something very short and easy that has to be turned in during a specific window—say 7-10 pm. This guarantees that the day’s material has at least crossed student minds during the evening, strengthening the learning pathways.  There may be some kids with schedule conflicts, but you can make exceptions on a case by case basis.

  2. Meet Ups: This can happen digitally, using the chat feature on Chalkup or it can take place in real life.  The key is to make meet ups rare and valuable.  Rare, because you want to value your own precious time.  Valuable, meaning there must be something helpful being offered to students. An hour to ask teacher to look over the conclusion to your essay?  Fabulous.  How about attending a community event related to your course material?

  3. Messages: Maybe you’ve got your own stuff going on and don’t want to think about students once the work day is over.  How about sending a quick message that goes out to all your students.  A question about the day’s lesson, a quote, or even something from the news.  If you use Chalkup, the process is simple—choose to “Message Your Class.”  No worrying about text vs. email as each student has already set up his or her preferences in the system.

  4. Listening Assignments: Not a paper or anything like that, just something to listen for while students are going about their regular business.  For a college linguistics class students listened for weird speech patterns or unusual words, then reported back the next day.  By collecting language tidbits, the class became more relevant.  Information tied in to real life, and sharing these funny observations worked as a fun start to each class.

  5. Current Events: An oldie but goodie, think back to middle school social studies. Students find a newspaper article related to course content.  Paper, online, doesn’t matter.  Take it up a notch by giving extra points to those who bring in something unique that no one else has.  This provides incentive to look harder than just the first two links that pop up on Google.

Teachers have a limited amount of time each class period.  Take advantage of one or more of these strategies to extend your reach outside your classroom.  You might be surprised how much more students get energized about content and discussion.


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Topics: Student Engagement, Teachers