In “Kids Speak Out on Engagement” author and teacher Heather Wolpert asks her own 220 eighth graders “what engages students?”
Her students had 10 main responses:
- Working with their peers
- Working with technology
- Connecting the real world to the classwork
- Clearly love what you do
- Get me out of my seat!
- Bring in visuals
- Student choice
- Understand your clients
- Mix it up!
- Be human
I agree with this top 10 list and try to incorporate a variety of these strategies in my own classroom. Here are three that I am committed to regularly:
- Working with their peers - My class is arranged so that students are seated in groups of 4. We often have collaborative style learning where students have a chance to work with their peers throughout each lesson.
- Working with technology - Although our school does not have many technological resources, many of them own smartphones and I try to incorporate technology in that way. For example, tomorrow we will be using Kahoot! to review for their test. I will have students work in pairs to ensure everyone has access to a smartphone (they love this and are very engaged).
- Get me out of my seat! – this is great advice and I try to pull this in as much as possible. One simple strategy that I use regularly is “student checkers”. After students finish the warm-up problems and get there answers checked by me, they become the checkers and circulate the room to tutor their peers. As more students get checked off, they then get up and become checkers.
Instagram ELE Challenge
In the article “Instagram ELE Challenge”, Spanish teacher Pilar Munday describes how she and her friend (a Spanish teacher in Barcelona) use Instagram as an avenue to teach vocabulary. Munday says, “kids today want to try learning through different mediums. In particular, they want to get out of their seats, do activities they like and learn through images, three things that I think this activity provides”. I couldn’t agree with this more. This challenge not only reinforces vocabulary in an engaging way but it also helps prepare students to participate in a global society by introducing social media for collaborative and educational purposes. Although this wasn’t directly mentioned in the article, I think it would be cool if both teachers (the US and the Barcelona teacher) shared the same class hashtag for one the activities. This way, students are not only collaborating in real time with their own peers but they are now taking on a joint experience with students across continents!
Instagram Scavenger Hunt
I love the idea of using Instagram in the classroom. Many of my students are already using Instagram so I think this would be a very engaging way to interact in an educational setting. As teacher Caitlyn Tucker says in her blog post “Instagram Scavenger Hunt”, “Why not?!? Instagram is emerging as the newest way students connect socially.” So true!
Being new to Instagram and school policies, I still have a few questions and concerns I need to iron out before going live with an activity.
- The current questions/concerns I’m working on:
- Not all students in my class have smartphones
- Do I have to create an account for my class or can we just pick a unique hashtag to use?
- I would want to discuss with my students the benefits of having their accounts set to private (I think that using a unique hashtag will allow students to maintain a private account).
- I would also want to discuss digital citizenship, appropriate commenting and also that students shouldn’t feel obligated to start following their peers just because we are using this in class.
- I know that most of my students have photo release forms signed (I also know the 2 students that do not) but I’m still wondering if the standard photo release form applies to posting photos online and on social media.
#InstagramELE November (and a new approach)
In this November article two new approaches are introduced to the #InstagramELE project: Gamification and Badges! Spanish teacher, Jose Ramon Rodriguez, from Malaga Spain, has written two blog posts going into further detail on each topic (the blogs are both written in Spanish so it was a little difficult for me to do a close read!). That said, I love the idea of designing and giving out virtual badges in conjunction with Instagram projects. It’s easy to see how this addition would further promote engagement in classroom.
- A few badge examples that were mentioned:
- A Welcome Badge – given to anyone who starts #InstagramELE
- A “Likes” Badge – given for a certain number of likes
- A “Comments” Badge – given for a certain number of comments
Instagram, a very visually gratifying experience, is one of the most popular social media channels for teen and tweens today. I believe that teachers can absolutely leverage this tool in the classroom to boost engagement, collaboration, creativity and instruction.