Update Your Curriculum: Practical Ways To Increase The Engagement Of Your Students
It’s often not what you teach but how you teach it that makes the biggest difference. Great teachers with access to ideas and tools that would allow them to plan creative and engaging lesson content work like a magnet for your organisation, attracting more and more students to your school year by year. In the next two blog posts we will share with you 7 best practices from our expert Curriculum Designers that have been proven to bring results if your primary objective is to transform your current curriculum and make it more engaging for students.
1) Differentiate the Pace of Learning
According to some psychologists, depending on their age, your students are able to maintain the highest focus level for between 10-15 minutes. However, if that’s actually true, how would you explain the (unfortunately still rare) scenario of students being intrigued by the topic and eager to learn more? This state can last for hours. How is that possible, you may ask?
What proves to be even more important than attention span is the degree to which your students find the content interesting and the learning process enjoyable.
That’s precisely why rather than scheduling frequent breaks from intensive slots of demanding and complex exercises, you should simply make the learning process more fun for your students. By differentiating between lower and higher focus-level exercises and activities you will be able to maintain student engagement for longer periods of time.
2) Swap Activity Types
One way to generate the impression of speed, make your lessons more dynamic and therefore more engaging is to use a variety of activity types to accomplish a single goal of the lesson. This technique is even more effective when you also change the kind of stimuli received by your students in a way that engages different parts of the brain. Changing the form of instruction, from for example, presentation style, to grouping students and asking them to work in teams, generates excitement and makes lessons less predictable. However, changing topics too frequently can cause confusion in your classroom and confuse students; so, stick with the same subject whilst changing instructional strategies.
Nothing works as a better motivator for students than letting them know they did something right.
Old models of learning, interpreted the role of the student in the feedback process as passive recipients of it. The teacher would be seen as the only authority that was able to give any constructive comment. Although commonly used and widely recognised, it is not the most effective and definitely not the most motivating feedback mechanism for your students. What will bring far better results is not only encouraging your students to share their own opinion with each other but also swapping the roles completely every now and then. Through giving your students the power to rate and express their opinions on each other’s ideas, you actively contribute to building an open and stress-free atmosphere in your class.
Once you reach the stage where your students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts in front of you, the teacher, as well as their classmates you can then use it to your advantage. Ask your learners for feedback on the activity types and carefully listen to their inputs. You will be surprised how much you can get them to open up, engage and even collaborate with you to make your lessons more interesting to them (Hattie, J., 2009).
These were the first 3 practices for upgrading your current curriculum. In the next blog post, we will be sharing with you the remaining 4 so that you know exactly what needs to be taken care of before you embark on your curriculum redesign journey with the rest of your school.
Hattie, J., 2009. Visible Learning: A Synthesis Of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating To Achievement. London: Routledge.