Student engagement is about tapping into students' innate curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills--these strategies can help.

5 strategies to ignite student engagement


At its heart, student engagement is about tapping into students' innate curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills

Key points:

When you think of education, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some, it might be a pile of homework or a stack of books that need reading. Others may recall the flashcards they used to memorize specific formulas or expand their vocabulary. All these examples have a place in the learning ecosystem, but true education should be about so much more. Student learning should involve curiosity, discovery, and the opportunity to experiment with a variety of different solutions. To put it more simply: true education requires student engagement.

Every teacher hopes to ignite, empower, and engage the students who walk through their classroom door. Ample research has shown that student engagement is crucial to overall learning and long-term success. However, implementing this is easier said than done. To better ignite student curiosity and interest, teachers should consider trying one of these strategies that help make student engagement second nature:

  1. Mystery Box: Start your class by bringing in a mystery box with something hidden inside. Then, have students ask yes or no questions to figure out what is in the box. To ensure this activity stays relevant, it helps to have objects in the box that loosely ties to the content and have students draw the connection. For instance, an old horseshoe could be used in a lesson about the Pony Express, or a piece of amber for a unit on fossils.
  2. Taboo Tactics: There’s nothing more tempting than forbidden fruit—so use this strategy to make knowledge a mouthwatering apple. Before you teach new content, close the door. Tell them you don’t want anyone to find out that you’re teaching them this idea. The content should never actually be controversial, but adding an element of secrecy is enough to hold student interest.
  3. Make a Mascot: Task students with building a character that represents something you’re learning about. Have them explain the symbolism behind their construction as a means of probing their understanding. Be sure to add constraints as well, so students will need to think critically and creatively. For example, they could construct a mascot that represents how humans impact their environment using only 5 materials provided from a table.
  4. Build an Intellectually Safe Culture: Create a culture where students feel free to offer ideas and are encouraged to make mistakes. A simple change in the wording of a question can open up a comfortable space for students to offer solutions. Instead of asking, “What is the answer?” pose the question as “What is an answer?” This allows students to recognize that many solutions are possible.
  5. Engage in Project-Based Learning: Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects that – in ways both big and small – make the world a better place. Consider exploring Blue Apple projects which cover everything from environmental sustainability to responsible money management!

At its heart, student engagement is about tapping into their innate curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. By giving students the space they need to ask questions and pursue ideas, teachers can equip them with a mindset that allows them to tackle any challenge that comes their way – both in the classroom and beyond.

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