One of my goals for the current school year is increasing classroom engagement. Last year being my first year, I was happy to just have covered all of the material. But, now that I more fully understand the curriculum, I can better prepare engaging lessons. To be honest, during my first few months of teaching, I was just happy if students were taking notes quietly in their seats. I now know that quiet note taking does not always equal engaged students who are grasping content.
Last week, my 43 week of teaching, I believe I finally achieved full student engagement. On multiple lessons. Teacher win!
The first lesson focused on setting. After it became evident that many of my students did not fully understand setting, I decided to break out the art supplies. We read “The King of Mazy May,” a short story about the Klondike Gold Rush, and then students drew a picture of Walt’s home. They not only had to draw a picture, they also had to write to explain why they included each element. The students loved this activity, and it was great to see their creativity as they included various elements. One of my students even water colored his picture at home! And on top of it all, we now have new wallpaper for our classroom!
Next, we began using Quizlet Live. Let me tell you, if you have not yet used Quizlet Live in your class, you are missing out! I have never seen my students so excited about their vocabulary words. The gist of the program is students work together on teams to compete with others. This competition is based on your quizlet deck (online flashcards), and the students race to answer the most correct. Every single one of my students participated, helped each other, and cheered each other on. Yes, it was extremely loud, but the good kind of loud.
The final lesson came about when nearly all of my students were struggling with the difference between direct and indirect characterization. We had taken notes and read examples, but it was still not clicking. So again, to the art supplies I went! Students sorted examples into direct and indirect characterization by cutting out examples from “The King of Mazy May” and gluing them into a graphic organizer. Because this was an in class activity, I was able to float around the room as students practiced identifying the quotes.
The moral of my most successful week to date is to:
- not be afraid of noise
- never underestimate the power of art supplies
- reteach when needed, sometimes starting over from square one