Elementary Science

Keeping Students Engaged

As a future educator, what are some activities and different way to help keep my students involved in the lesson?

Andrea Leal
Andrea Leal
180 Activity Points

Andrea, I think along with Katherine said about engaging and hands-on activities, students interpret and understand new information well when they can connect what they learn back to something they are familiar with in real life. In other words, creating meaningful activities and asking purposeful questions that help students think about the subject outside of school terms is a great tool when teaching. I also like KWL charts and flow maps that can help the teacher evaluate if the students have gotten the "big picture" out of the lesson.

Naimah Urfi
Naimah Urfi
875 Activity Points

Andrea, I am a future educator as well, I think that as long as the activities are hands on that the students will be engaged and involved in the lesson. One activity that I used in an assignment on living and nonliving organisms is having living and nonliving organisms from outside in a paper bag, such as gravel and grass. The students then come up and pull an item out of the bag and state if it is living or nonliving. The other students either put thumbs up if they agree or thumbs down if they disagree.

Samantha Kalmick
Samantha Kalmick
600 Activity Points

Hello Andrea,

I am also a future educator who aims to teach in the elementary level. I am not placed in a science classroom, however, I did have the opportunity to teach a science class today. When I was creating my lesson plan for this class, I also had the same question. These are some strategies that I used in this lesson:
I made sure:
[ol]

  • that the content was age appropriate.

  • each part of the lesson had questions that would challenge the students to think critically.

  • each part of the lesson allowed the students to talk or discuss, either with me, in their group, or at least with a shoulder/elbow partner.

  • that I used visuals such as, pictures and examples.

  • at least two parts of my lesson plan allowed the students to move around.

  • that the students had a good hands-on activity.

  • [/ol]
    I hope that this can help you when you begin creating your own lesson plan.

    Eddy Martinez
    Eddy Martinez
    1280 Activity Points

    Using the 5E model of lesson planning is actually a good way to start. If you're looking specifically into things that keep them engaged for the whole period, then I suggest implementing STEM into your classroom. Here are a few examples of STEM activities for Elementary children: http://www.teachjunkie.com/sciences/stem-challenges/

    An Vu
    An Vu
    330 Activity Points

    A great way to keep students involved is using phenomenon based lessons. When students observe or experience a phenomenon (no matter how big or small), they then become invested in solving the problem for themselves. This often leads to hands on explorations. The best way for me to ensure I am doing phenomenon based lessons justice, I use the 5 E model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. Engage: This is the attention getter and hooks the students' attention. Explore: This is where the teacher allows the students to gather and collect information on their own. This could be guided or open. The teacher should be hands off. Explain: This can be done in a couple ways. The most common way is where the teacher presents/shares information to help students better understand the concept and/or clear up an misconceptions. Or explain could be students learning from each other's discoveries and their conclusions. Elaborate: This is way students take the information they just learned and apply it a new way. Evaluate: This is to ensure students met the objectives of the lesson are met. Using the phenomena based lessons with the 5 E model, teachers facilitate learning while students are discovering on their own how to solve problems. They partake in the process of a real science process and it shows the application of subjects first hand. Here is an article on phenomena based lessons: https://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/default/files/Using%20Phenomena%20in%20NGSS.pdf

    Angel Peterson
    Angel Peterson
    2360 Activity Points

    Andrea, As a pre-service teacher, I do not have a ton of experience under my belt, but what I have noticed with the second graders I am with is that when they are moving, they are engaged. They LOVE activities that keep them moving. I am not in a science class, but when I did have an opportunity to teach science, I was able to keep the students moving during most of the lesson, which in turn, kept them engaged. They love STATIONS! In my math classroom, we use stations to re-teach and expand their knowledge of things we have already gone over. I believe this could also be used in a science classroom! Games that let the students explore and movement are the keys to engagement in my classroom. Hope this helps! Megan Bradburn

    Megan Bradburn
    Megan Bradburn
    500 Activity Points

    I am currently a future educator myself, and will begin my student teaching after this summer.  Through my field experiences so far and my education at the University of Northern Iowa, I have learned a lot of great ways to keep students involved in lessons.  The first thing I would suggest is offering breaks as often as possible.  This is especially crucial for younger grades because it can be hard for younger studnets to sit still for longer periods of time.  Giving students the opportunity to get up and move a little bit will help them stay engaged in your lesson.  Another thing that I have found to work very well is involving students in lessons.  A good example of this would be having the students come up the board and to answer a question instead of staying at their desk.  This is another great way to incorportate movement into your lessons, and students usually love coming up to the board to solve problems.  Group work is another great way to get students invovled during lessons.  If there are different ranges of learners, you can use selective pairing to give students who might be struggling to understand the material more opportunities to be taught by students who are really understanding the material.  Lastly, give your students choice and say in the lessons when appropriate.  For instance, while working with my middle school students, we allowed them to either type things out or physically write things out.  Letting students know that you care about what they want, will help keep students invovled in your lessons.

    Dakota Dix
    Dakota Dix
    2500 Activity Points

    I defintitely think to keep students engaged in a science lesson you must make the learning interactive so that students can experiment with materials and learn for themselves. Also allow this to be a discussion time so that they can share their findings with their classmates and build on other's ideas. To make sure every student gets a chance to be involved, maybe assign each student a job before they get started so that there's not one student doing all the work while the rest of the group watches. And as always, walk around the classroom to answer any student questions and provide them with questions to think about while they work on their activities so you can direct their thinking to deeper questions. Also if time allows, in addition to the direct instruction of how the experiment should go, give them time to freely try different things that aren't planned so they can explore their own thinking.

    Kaleigh Steele
    Kaleigh Steele
    180 Activity Points

    To keep students involved during lessons, the lessons have to be intresting. Learning what your students are interest on may give you ideas on how to incorporate their interests in science activities. For example, if your students like cooking or baking you can incorporate baking or cooking when teaching physical and chemical properties. Something we can also keep in mind is the learning style of the students. Incorporating activities for the diferent learning styles of your students can also help them. For example, showing educational videos for visual learners. Creating hands on activities can also keep student on task and ready to learn. 

    Alejandra Corona
    Alejandra Corona
    200 Activity Points

    I think that a good way to keep students interested in the topic is by giving them opportuinities to experience the activities. Hands on activities are really good to keep the students engaged. It also help to have students in groups this way children are able to interact with other students and learn from classmates. it is also important to always have a backup plan in case something happens this way students will not loose learning time. Organization and a 5E lesson plan is key to succeed and keep students engagged in the lesson.

    Sac Nicte Garza
    Sac Nicte Garza
    195 Activity Points

    Hello Andrea! 

    I'm also a future educator, and one of my biggest goals is to make every part of my classroom and lessons fun! Thank you for bringing up the question....I've learned that it is very helpful to "study" your students too soon at the begining of the year. You'll learn that each of your students is very deifferent than the other when it comes to learning. After observing and collecting each of their needs, you'll be able to combine different "strategies" and techniques to create lessons that is inclusive to all of your students and that them involved as well as engaged. 

    Janette Perez
    Janette Perez
    45 Activity Points

    Hi Andrea! I am also going to be a future educator. Some activities or ways to keep your students involved in the lesson is to have engaging, hands-on activities. These activities could also be partner or group work where they learn to collaborate and share ideas. Another one could be, have the students write down their reflection of the lesson or experiment. Then you could have them share with their peers or as a class. Good luck to you!

    Katherine Nguyen
    Katherine Nguyen
    615 Activity Points

    Hi Katherine! I liked your contribution in ways to keep students involved in the lesson. I liked how you included reflecting because that is a very important skill that students should be exposed to and practice throughout school and their lives. Having students reflect on what they learned can help teacher know if students learned and how they will apply it to their everyday life. I also liked how you mentioned sharing their reflection/thoughts with their peers. Students putting what they learned into their own words help them remember and understand better and can also help others peers understand better. Students stay engaged when they discover on their own and understand through their own language and reflection can help teachers accomplish engagement.

    Alondra Hernandez
    Alondra Hernandez
    655 Activity Points

    I see all the advice on hands on activities. As a future educator I'm eager to learn more activities for my kids to do and to make my classroom an exciting learning environment.

    Taylor Hiatt
    Taylor Hiatt
    355 Activity Points

    Hello, I am a student teacher in a second grade class. From my observations and what I have seen in many classrooms, the way to engage students is by using hands-on activities, students really like lessons where they use manipulatives or even play games. Having engaging activities are great too. For example taking them outdoors when learning about shadows, the weather, living and non-living objects, and more. Showing interactive videos also work well. I have also noticed that having KWL charts or even anchor charts helps them become more engaged in a lesson, they are even helpful for students when they are doing their assignments.

    Miriam Luna
    Miriam Luna
    455 Activity Points

    Hello Andrea, I am a future teacher as well. As I have been in the classrooms doing my student teaching and observing. I have noticed that when students are just repeating what teachers says, they seem disengaged and have a hard time retaining the content. I have seen when students have more hands on experience they stay engaged and do better at retaining the content. Allowing the students to participate in a lesson helps the students become part of the lesson. I noticed that students start taking ownership of the content. A wise professor once told me, "If the teacher is doing all the talking the teacher is doing all the thinking." Hands-on activities helps students engage critical thinking.

    Adrene Henninger
    Adrene Henninger
    600 Activity Points

    I am so excited to see that future teachers are beginning to understand the importance of keeping students engaged! As I have read the posts above me, I agree with all of the things they are saying so I will try not to repeat them. First of all, teaching science used to be that students read from a textbook and they did an investigation with a finite result. All students were being asked to do was to regurgitate information that they might not have even understood. That is why I think that using different types of inquiry is important to a classroom. It moves beyond the idea of just a hands-on lesson, because even a "hands-on" lesson may not be meaningful to the students. Teachers should pose a question or a phenomenon and then students should be able to construct their own knowledge and build their own conclusions based on their evidence. There are several types of inquiry which can be explained in this cool graphic.
    If you need some ideas for phenomena here is one good resource: ngssphenomena.com
    My last piece of advice would be to make your lessons meaningful, not fun. If you make them meaningful your students will be engaged and they will learn a lot more than if they are just fun.

    Kaitlin Schlegel
    Katie Schlegel
    2865 Activity Points

    In my experience, I have noticed that incorporating the students' interests as much as possible is important to keeping students engaged and involved. Some of the main things that I keep in mind are:

    - Are the activities/experiments developmentally appropriate for my students?

    - Are the students engaging in an activity that is hands-on, visual, or that gets them up and moving?

    - Do the students find the content interesting? (If not, how can I relate the content to meet the interests of my class?)

    - Do students have the opportunity to collaborate and communicate with their peers?

    - Is the activitiy providing enough challenge for my students without causing too much frustration?

    Tapping into the interests and needs of your specific students will increase classroom involvement and motivation. Try to relate content to your students' lives, and draw connections to real-life scenarios when possible. When possible, offer students choices or make assignments more open-ended. Providing them with choice and allowing them to take responsibility in their learning communicates that you truly care about their education. Additionally, inquiry learning is incredibly effective and engaging; offering students the opportunity to explore and investigate real-world scenarios will increase involvement in the classroom.

    Colleen Hines
    Colleen Hines
    895 Activity Points

    In today's society, technology is everywhere and ever-changing. I think using fun science websites/ apps would be a great way to keep students engaged in the lesson. This provides a great visual and hands-on activities for the students to do that tie in with your topic. The internet has a wide variety of fun teacher resources for you to use. Through my field experience, I have observed that young students (and older students) love every opportunity to use technology in the classroom. 

    Brooklyn Forsgren
    Brooklyn Forsgren
    180 Activity Points

    Hello, just like the last posts they are right you need to have activities that students can engage on the activity. Also, having them have activities that is hands on I believe that doing that it can help students think more about the subject, and have more knowlege. 

    Ana Jimenez
    Ana Jimenez
    756 Activity Points

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