Engaging Students in Learning

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Students learn better and are happier when they are engaged with their learning. Teachers, too, enjoy their work more when students are engaged. This lesson offers you some ideas about how best to engage students in the learning process.

What an Engaged Classroom Looks Like

Enter Ms. Soledad's 5th grade classroom in the middle of a Thursday morning, and you will get a sense of what it means for students to be engaged in learning. The class is having a social studies lesson. One small group is working together to build a model of the United States out of clay, while another group is carefully reading travel brochures to decide what a cross-country trip might look like. A few students are playing geography trivia games on the classroom's tablets. Ms. Soledad sits with another few students on the rug, helping the workshop the essays they have written about what makes U.S. geography special. Every student is busy, focused, and working at his or her own pace. Students who get stuck or have questions approach one another and help each other work through tricky patches.

Ms. Soledad has worked hard to engage her students in learning. She finds that when students are engaged, they are happier, more productive, and more successful as learners. She also finds that engaged students are more interesting for her as a teacher to work with. She would like to share with you some of her strategies for engaging students in learning.

Make Sure You are Excited About Your Teaching

Ms. Soledad used to teach social studies via textbooks. She would read aloud or let children read, and at the end of each unit, she would give a quiz. But Ms. Soledad found her own motivation dragging, and she noticed that her students were bored too. Ms. Soledad realized that she was actually part of the problem. She was bored by the way she was teaching, so it was no surprise her students were bored, too!

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