As educators, we are always trying to find ways for all students to achieve success. Research has shown us that students who are engaged in learning are more likely to be successful. So how do we know when students are truly engaged in learning? They are active participants–they listen and ask questions, they are invested in and internalize what they are learning, they make real-life connections, and they take pride in the work they produce.
Two years ago, my school, Dr. Rodriguez Elementary, kicked off a new effort to create authentic learning experiences for all students by infusing STEM learning strategies into our curriculum. We believed this effort would increase student engagement and motivation. While we have more work to accomplish in this effort, to date we have been pleased with the results.
Here are five strategies using technology the teachers in my school have implemented to create a learning environment that actively engages students and promotes more fun in learning.
1. Take students on a Virtual Field Trip: All field trips were canceled this year due to the pandemic; however, with the help of Discovery Education we have been able to continue to expose our students to the world around them and you won’t need permission slips! Can’t take a trip to the zoo or take your class to Washington, D.C. to tour the monuments? No worries! Students can still see polar bears in action on the tundra or tour the White House with First Lady Jill Biden by taking a virtual field trip. In this way, teachers can create real-life connections between what is taught and the real world.
2. Incorporate the 4 Cs into your lessons: Why are the 4Cs important for students? The 4Cs are important skills students need to succeed in the workplace. Creating opportunities for students to be able to engage in one or more of the 4Cs will allow them to practice using those skills.
Collaborate with Zoom video conferencing: Students should have the opportunity to work together in groups with a specific problem to solve. The main objective of collaboration is for students to learn how to compromise to achieve a common goal. Because of the pandemic this school year, teachers on my campus are using breakout rooms with Zoom video conferencing to have in-person students collaborate with remote learning students.