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Strategies for Engaging Students in Productive Tasks

Instructor: Clio Stearns

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

Helping your students stay organized and engaged is one of your most important and challenging jobs as a teacher. This lesson offers strategies you can use each day in your classroom.

Why Engagement Counts

After teaching seventh grade for two years, Ms. Corn has developed some important skills. She knows how to clearly communicate learning objectives, come up with solid assignments, and form strong relationships with students and families.

This year, though, Ms. Corn is thinking more about student engagement, or willing, motivated involvement with the tasks she assigns them in school. She has noticed that many of her students avoid becoming engaged with tasks and may not know the right strategies for keeping on top of productive work.

As Ms. Corn reads, talks and thinks about engagement, she realizes that there are specific things she can do to facilitate this in her classroom. She knows that more engagement will mean that students will internalize concepts and skills, develop stronger self-efficacy, or a sense of themselves as people who can accomplish things, and feel better about their time in school.

Time Management

Ms. Corn knows that time management in the classroom is key for student engagement. If she wants to retain her students' interest, she has to be careful about how she uses her time and help her students manage their time.

Plan Each Lesson

Ms. Corn plans each instructional period carefully, making sure that she never asks her students to spend too much time in one particular formation. For instance, if they will be sitting still and listening for a long time at the beginning of class, Ms. Corn makes sure that the rest of the lesson will be spent in independent or partner work.

Be Prepared

Ms. Corn ensures that she is well-prepared for each class. This allows her to model preparation for her students, while wasting less of her students' time on waiting for her to get her plans together.

Map Out the Unit

At the beginning of a new unit, Ms. Corn maps out approximately how many weeks the unit will take and what she will focus on during each week. Keeping her eye on the big picture allows her to pace the curriculum and instruction appropriately, thus helping students become more engaged.

Teach Time Management

Ms. Corn also teaches her students explicit lessons on time management, so that they do not waste their own time. She know that time management skills will help her students stay on top of assignments, keep up with the unit, and maintain a higher interest level.

Materials Management

Managing materials is also something Ms. Corn knows she can do to help her students stay more engaged. This means she has to have the right materials available, keep classroom materials organized and labeled, and minimize the materials she will use on any given day when possible.

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