Engagement is a fickle thing. A student has an off day and becomes disengaged. Your lesson doesn’t interest your students as much as you thought it would and engagement goes down. It happens to the best of us. What I dread the most (and I’m sure you do too) is the drop in engagement that happens at the end of the year or close to any school break.
Create authentic learning opportunities
As we approach a break, students are thinking more and more about what they’re going to do with all of their free time. They need activities that connect to their real lives. Giving them authentic activities is a great way to engage them while providing them with real-life practice of the standards.
You’d be surprised by how many math standards can be used to plan a camping trip with your friends and family!
The Camping Trip Project-based Learning can be found here.
All Project-based Learning (3-5th) can be found here.
Connect with the community
Brainstorm ways to connect with your community. Bring in a guest speaker and have them talk about the skills they need in their career. If you have friends or family in other states that have interesting jobs, it takes very little technology to Skype with them, so that they can instantly be “in” your classroom.
Before I plan my lessons, I always ask myself if there’s someone I know that can talk about the skill in a real-life situation. For example, if you’re working on a unit with decimals and measurement, your list might look like this:
- Chef (someone that has written a cookbook would be amazing!)
- Architect (or anyone in construction)
There are so many amazing games out there for math and language arts. Utilize games during your regular lesson to get students out of their seats and reinvigorate learning!
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One of my favorite games for upper elementary students is U-KNOW by Fun in 5th Grade. She also uses task card games in her classroom. Check out her blog post on using games in the classroom here.
Connect with other classrooms
Your students spend a lot of time together. Use one of the follow ideas to get them out of their usual peer group:
- Collaborate with another teacher in your building to do a lesson or activity with their students.
- Connect with a classroom in another state (or country!) and write letters or e-mails.
- Create a collaborative blog where students in your building can work with students in other classrooms.
- Skype with another classroom teacher and have her teach a lesson, then switch and you teach her students a lesson. Using technology adds novelty, and sometimes they just need to learn from a different face!
Take learning outside
Most lessons can be taught outside. If the weather is bad, try completing an activity in an area other than your classroom. You and your class just need to get out of your classroom once in a while! The novelty can make ANY lesson more engaging at this time of the year!
Keeping students engaged close to a break can be very difficult, but it will benefit you AND your students to add some novelty to get you through your lessons until break!