Most teachers learn that even the best lesson plans work best when they contain elements that keep their students engaged. Even if the lesson’s concept and the explanation are clearly communicated in the most age-appropriate way possible, there needs to be a “hook” that reels kids in and keeps their attention focused and interested.
One way to really grab a kid’s attention is to relate lessons and activities to real life scenarios. Obviously, elementary school students may not perk up right away if you tell them their upcoming writing workshop time is going to include topics from current events. However, if you showcase last night’s batting stats from a popular Major League Baseball player and ask your class to figure out the batting average, you just might have an exciting math lesson on your hands.
The Rio Olympic Games, the upcoming 2016 World Series and WNBA Championship are just a few examples of well-known events that can be interesting to even the youngest elementary students. It may be worth your time to develop lesson plans using elements from popular sporting events or other pop-culture happenings. Hopefully you will see that your students pay more attention and stay connectedd when they are excited about a familiar topic.
Check out these 3 ideas for keeping kids engaged this fall:
- Either as a class or as an individual homework assignment, have your students come up with a list of medalists from the Rio Olympics. Then, direct each kid to write a short bio on the athlete of his or her choice. Be sure to incorporate your school’s writing curriculum requirements and you will have a solid lesson that has the potential to be an exciting project for the kids.
- Have you heard about the new Harry Potter book? Fans will be heading to bookstores at 12:01 am on July 31st for their chance to purchase a copy of the book that explores Harry’s life as an adult. Why not build on this excitement by asking students to choose a school-age character from one of their favorite books? Kids could then imagine what their character would be doing as an adult and they could write an outline, a few paragraphs or even an 8 – 10 page book.
- Math is everywhere in sports and boys and girls alike can become absorbed in figuring out the stats for their favorite players and/or games. This fall, incorporate a recent pro football or baseball game in to a math lesson. The possibilities are endless; sports stats can be easily figured using addition, subtraction and division. Pair kids up to research and figure goal percentages, yards thrown, stolen base totals, etc. Sneak in some public speaking practice and assign kids to present a 2 – 3 minute speech about an athlete’s stats.
Keeping students engaged can be a tough task, especially because most kids are used to large amounts of exciting electronic entertainment. Connecting current events to lesson plans can be a good attention-grabbing strategy. Spend a few weeks this fall finding out what types of activities interest your students and then use that information to build on the lesson plans you’ve already created. You’ll be pleasantly surprised each time you discover the “hooks” that amp up your students’ enthusiasm.