{Week 4} BTS in a FLASH! Student Engagement

It is our final week of the Back to School in a FLASH blog linky! This week we are blogging all about student engagement. I have some great ideas for you!

Student engagement is my number one goal in the classroom. None of the academic goals can be achieved without student engagement. It is essential! My biggest advice to you is to decrease teacher talk and the time students spend in their desks. I use guided reading and math groups to help create an engaged atmosphere where students are moving regularly and I am not lecturing all day.

I want to share five more ways that I keep my students engaged in our lessons.

I LOVE this quote by Eric Jensen: "If you don't have time to play music when you teach then you talk too much." TRUTH! There is so much research out there about how music lowers anxiety and nerves and releases endorphins that make you happy. Music wakes you up and makes your body move! Use music to increase student engagement. Get them ready to learn by playing fun music as they walk in the room and unpack. Play soothing music while they write. After a test, play some upbeat music to reenergize them. Play fun music while they are packing up  and cleaning the classroom. Use music as a reward. If my kids get compliments in the hall, they get a song and free dance during snack break. So easy and so fun.

The simple truth is that when you are happy, you are more engaged. Music makes us happy! I will be blogging later this week to share my favorite songs to use in the classroom. Make sure you are following me on Facebook so that you don't miss the post!

I have found that students are more engaged in my lessons when they feel like they are working towards a tangible goal. In my classroom, students have math fact, reading, behavior and other goals that they are continuously working to achieve. Motivation and engagement is high because I reward them with brag tags for meeting these big goals.

When I notice that a student seems distracted or sluggish, I can remind them of the brag tag they are working for. They perk right up!

You can read THIS post to learn more about how I use brag tags in my classroom.

A lot of teachers use pair share from time to time. I use pair share about 5-10 times during every mini lesson. I actually use the Whole Brain Teaching Teach-Okay for my pair shares. I tell them something and then they teach it right back to their accountability partner. Students are hearing what I say and then repeating it to a partner. It increases memorization. I also find that students are more tuned in and engaged during my lesson because they know they are going to have to teach regularly. Giving students lots of opportunities to talk helps to decrease the chatter during quiet work times too. I highly recommend that you watch this video to see how this works in a classroom.

There are times when I notice that my kids have been sitting for too long or are getting antsy. That is when it is time to get them up stretching, dancing and moving. Go Noodle is a free website that has tons of video brain breaks for kids.
They are so fun for the kids. (But I must fess up- I do them too. Great exercise and catchy tunes!) Our favorites include: Pop See Ko, Go Bananas and Roller Coater. After we do one of these guided dances- then we do one of the Go Noodle stretching activities to calm the kids down.

The kids are happy and their blood is moving again. They are ready to think and be engaged in your lesson! (Plus- they think you are the coolest teacher EVER!)

Worksheets are NOT engaging! I very rarely ever use one in my classroom. Students still need to practice key concepts that I am teaching in my mini lessons. I use interactive notebooks to give kids the opportunity to practice skills while keeping engagement high. They get to cut, glue and fold. They are moving and creating. 

My students take pride in their interactive notebooks and pay close attention to detail while they work. They actually look forward to notebook activities. There is no doubt that my students are engaged! You can read a lot more about how I use interactive notebooks in the classroom by reading THIS post. You can shop for interactive notebooks in my store by clicking HERE.

Now it is your turn! Blog about your favorite ways to engage your students and link up with us.