The question is on every teacher’s mind: How do we increase student engagement when attention spans appear to be getting shorter every year? It does not matter if it is elementary or high school, we are all facing the same difficulties with retaining pupil engagement in the classroom. We live in a society where all of us like to keep our cell phones in our hands at all time. And it starts now at a young age. This does not help improve attention spans in the classroom.
Attention spans often correspond with the age of the child. Elementary students will have less of an attention span than high school students in general. The Associated Press recently published stats that show attention spans have dramatically been reduced 50 percent in the last decade. Part of the reason can be blamed on technology, but it is just something that we educators need to work around nowadays.
If you are worried like most teachers about maintaining engagement through an entire lesson in the classroom, there are certain things you should think about incorporating into the way you teach. Use these tips listed below to keep their attention in the classroom instead of the noise in the hallway or the view outside the classroom windows.
More Interactive Lessons with Open Discussion
Any time a teacher stands behind their podium and starts to lecture or read for a long period of time out of a textbook, students mentally check out. You can’t really blame them since we often do this as adults as well. Once someone starts a lecture that you think will take some time, you daydream until they are finished. If this is your teaching style, you need to change it for the betterment of your students. Start creating more interactive lessons that will have students paying attention and constantly participating by answering questions.
Use Technology Frequently
Technology is often blamed for shortening attention spans in all of us, but technology can also be a great thing as long as it is used the correct way in education. Use your students’ love of computers and smartboards by integrating it into all of your lessons. You could even have them quit turning in all paperwork and instead get them to submit all of their work through Google Docs for now on.
Plan Daily Lessons that Are Not Extremely Long
If you have an hour to teach a subject every day, you don’t want to spend the entire time on just one lesson otherwise you will lose your students. Instead, break them up into mini-lessons that are different enough from one another to maintain their focus. Spending 15 minutes on an interactive lesson, 15 minutes on either independent or teacher-led reading, 15 minutes on videos that pertain to the lesson, and 15 minutes of independent writing is a good way to break it up.
Combine Education with Entertainment: Edutainment
One of my best friends is a high school History teacher. He told me his secret to maintain pupil engagement is to make the lesson as entertaining as possible. He said when he taught, he adapted the personality of a stand-up comic. It kept all the students laughing and learning all class long. While you may not be able to teach in the stand-up comic style, you can figure out some way to keep it entertaining. Any speech or lecture that you have ever heard that involved humor made you sit up and listen because you didn’t want to miss a good laugh. More and more teachers are turning to edutainment in an effort to increase student engagement in the classroom.
If you are concerned about keeping all of your students’ attention on your lessons in the classroom, iAchieve may be able to help. We hold professional development workshops often, so investing a bit of your time now could help you in the classroom for years to come.
Written by Ryan Crawley