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Increasing student engagement at the end of the year
MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015 16:21 PM

The end of the year is a tough time for teachers and students alike. The warm weather and promise of summer makes even the most hard-working of pupils feel a little restless. As a result, it can be harder for instructors to keep their students concentrating on what they should be doing. But with Common Core State Standards-aligned tests currently going on and final projects and papers still to do, student engagement is more important than ever. That said, here are a few ways to keep your students focused through the end of the year:

Keep students moving
Come up with lesson plans that involve getting up and moving around. Kinesthetic lessons can keep students from zoning out or losing focus and can be an effective way to teach concepts as well. For math classes, for instance, divide students into groups and hand them each a large loop of yarn. Have them make shapes by holding onto the yarn and spreading out. Three students will obviously make a triangle out of the loop of yarn, but can they work together to create a right triangle? Or an equilateral?

Use class discussions
Rather than standing in front and lecturing, which many students will have trouble paying attention to for long periods of time, find ways to incorporate class discussions into your lessons. These can take up the entire period, or you can have several small discussions throughout the hour. Come up with a few open-ended and interesting questions that students will enjoy talking about. For instance, if you're reading a Shakespearean play, ask students to think of a modern TV or movie character who has similar traits to one of the play's characters.

Get energy out
A common issue at the end of the year is that students simply can't sit still. If you notice a lot of fidgeting, give students a five-minute break and have them switch seats with someone else, walk around the classroom or do a dance move of their choice. Make sure the break is relatively short so that students don't lose concentration completely. It should be just long enough to allow them to loosen up so they'll have an easier time focusing for the rest of the period.

Enlist volunteers
Throughout your lesson, ask students to volunteer to do various activities. Or, to keep them on their toes, draw names out of a cup or pick them randomly off your roster. Students can help you read a paragraph, write and solve an equation on the board or pass out papers or supplies.