Student Engagement Winner!

Two weeks ago I offered a giveaway for a $10 Starbucks or Peet’s card to one random person.  Congratulations goes out to Carol P. in Florida! I wanted to find out how others keep students engaged in their classrooms because it consistently is a hot topic among educators.  Here are some of the ideas shared:

One thing I found successful for engaging students was using an app on the iPads where students would record their reports. I would give the assignment and have students research and write the necessary information. Then I would have them respond to a prompt regarding their research and record it on the iPad. (There are numerous apps for student recording, I like Face talk where you take a picture and the mouth moves while students talk, or Photospeak … Students would practice then record their responses. The iPads would be rotated to a new student that would listen to the report and have to write 2-3 questions about the topic reported. The recording their voice was exciting as well as coming up with questions about someone else s report. The students were excited that they did not have to stand in front of the entire class, yet they could record their report and quietly share with another student. This was an activity they asked to do over and over again! (Libby Jacobs)

Libby mentioned a tool called “Photospeak” which I decided to download and try. It is a free download on iTunes. It was easy to use…and I admit a little freaky! It turns any picture into 3D and then allows you to put a voice with it. The image will blink, speak, and move. I used an older photo of my son and tested it out. I showed it to him and his response was, “Ew! That’s freaky and I don’t like it!”  Now, by “I don’t like it” he wasn’t talking about the program – he was talking about his own picture coming to life and talking. He didn’t like the picture! I think it would definitely be an interesting app to use in the classroom.

One of my favorite activities was with my 10-12 grade Introduction to Business students during the Marketing Unit. They needed to learn the 7 functions of marketing so I took them on a QR code scavenger hunt. At each stop (there were 7 of them) they used their phones or iPad to scan a QR code that took them to an article, short video, or slideshow providing them with information on the 7 functions. The stops were in 7 different locations around the school. I could have done the same thing in the classroom as whole group instruction but this method of getting them to get up and move around kept them engaged in the content. I must admit it was a lot more work to create but it was so worth it and will be easy to update with new & current information as the years move on. (Sara Bird)

I love Sara’s idea because getting students up and moving helps with engagement. I know students would enjoy bringing out their cell phones and scanning a code to watch a video clip around campus.

I have encouraged students to create videos when doing a final project for our human body unit. I have encouraged them to create a commercial on either the effects of drugs and alcohol or a nutritional video. Last year I had a student use his lego people to accomplish this. So fun! I also had a couple of students create a radio ad instead of videos. Another project was having students video tape their Rube Goldberg project – this was fun as well! (Jennifer T)

Our faculty just finished another digital storytelling course. We used WeVideo to create our final videos. It is free and user friendly. If students have a tablet there are several apps that create videos such as Explain Everything. How about just using the video capabilities on a smartphone? They upload easily to YouTube. Podcasts (radio ads) can be created using Audacity, Podbean, and Podcast (available on the iPhone).

My very simple tech idea is useful for language teaching or any sort of vocabulary learning. The students actually told me about Study Blue, a phone app where they can enter information and review it. At the beginning of each chapter, I ask the most advanced students in the class, typically quickly done with class work, to open a page accessible to the whole class and type in the vocabulary list for that unit. That way everyone can memorize the words at their own pace using the app, and the kids who would be very challenged to even type in the words correctly do not have to deal with the data entry part, just the word recognition part. It is a great way to differentiate learning the same material. (Margaret H.)

I have written many times about StudyBlue because it is an amazing app. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

My favorite is to use videogames in Higher Ed English comp courses to engage students with ideas of learning, learning assessment and disciplinary knowledge. My favorite is Vampire Physics on With most students familiar with at least 2 different vampire mythologies, this helps open the discussion about disciplinary knowledge. I have a smart classroom, so I project the game and ask volunteers to play for us, while everyone adds help, questions, ideas about learning, etc. while we play. (ngrahampfannen)

I know that gaming is becoming more and more popular in education. The Awesome Power of Gaming in Higher Education is a good read if you are more interested in the topic!

In an upper division course, I taught with only two students. I had them take turns lecturing/giving presentations on the material instead of me lecturing the whole time. It allowed them to practice presenting mathematical content and also allowed them to exercise their board use technique. Finally, I could conduct informal tests of their understanding of the material they were presenting by asking them to clarify or expand statements or examples. (BWagner)

Giving students control of the content can be a great motivator. As stated in my original post, I know my son would love doing this! (I think he secretly wants to be a teacher and just won’t admit it yet!)

As an ELA middle school teacher, I used many techniques for both the content and context of our learning. One of the favorites of the students was Morphology Jeopardy, which was done first with teams using their notes they had written throughout the year in their Interactive Student Notebooks (fantastic tool!) The Powerpoint had images within each of the categories, and the students had to correctly identify them. They were especially challenged by the Greek vs. Latin section, but loved the format for review. With a few tweaks, the Powerpoint became the final quiz. (thouchard)

When I taught 4th grade, I often used PowerPoint Jeopardy. Students loved it! Yes, I believe it could be used in almost any grade level. Adults enjoy Jeopardy too, right? This site has some Jeopardy templates. Give it a try!

Finally, Jenice sent this in:

My kids enjoy teachers that use a mix of technology in class. Watch a video to hook them into a topic or have them do presentations in different formats. As a parent I appreciate when teachers use technology to reach out the parents, help us find the information to assist our kids with homework. We use quizlet a lot and thanks to wjuedtech PowToon has become a fun way for my kids to do presentations! Thank You (Jenice Sabra)

I’m happy to hear that your kids benefitted from PowToons! I hope they “wow-ed” their teachers.


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