As a chemistry teacher, I was always looking for ways to get my students engaged and up and moving. My rule was if I was bored, my students must be losing their minds. That can especially happen when year-end testing concludes and at this point, you’re just trying to help students retain information rather than take on new topics.
Here are four ways to keep students engaged now before the summer break:
Practice makes perfect. We all want our students to practice but what we don’t want is another worksheet to give them. Try making a competitive race instead. Place the questions/problems on the back of cards. Number the cards and then place them in a central location. Students choose one card to work on at a time. They can get another card after they complete the one they have chosen. If they have difficulty, you can work one-on-one with them or have peer-to-peer tutoring. Make it a competition by offering 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes for the most questions completed correctly. You will have students asking for more time. They forget they are practicing!
Further reading: Observe Patterns by Tracking the Sun with Your Students
Student Response Cards
Ever have a reluctant student that doesn’t want to participate or ask questions? Response cards are a life-saver. Glue a green card and red card together, place them on a stand (I used picture stands), then place them with each group. Make them even more fun by placing smiley and frowny faces on the cards. The students can then respond by putting up the green card when they are done or the red card when they have a question. The response cards also help with students yelling across the room to get your attention. Win-Win!
Yes, we all know that grouping students allows them to work with peers and can increase engagement. Students can be grouped based on many factors: ability, content, language, and behavior. Change it up, have some fun. Random grouping using Uno cards or craft sticks makes it fun and exciting for students. Uno cards are made with two of the same card. Place a card at each desk and then give a student a card as they enter the classroom. The student matches their card to the card on the desk. Instant new groups! You can also do similar grouping with craft sticks. Put symbols, letters, numbers, or pictures on the sticks. Place the same labels on the desks. The students pick up a stick when entering the classroom and the groups are which label you want to go with that day.
Ever get stuck in the PowerPoint wormhole? Change it up by creating a web quest. Find reliable websites that have the content you want students to review. Give students questions or tables to guide them through the information. Once complete, you can hold a discussion to ensure all content was gathered. Another option is to split the topics up, one topic for each group. Then give students half the class period to research, then half the class to present. Give students options on how to present the information – illustration, acting out, song/rap. You will be amazed at the level of engagement and the presentations students create. They are amazing!
Further reading: 3 Ways to Make Teaching Math Fun and Easy
It’s my experience that students usually become most engaged when they’re actively involved in the review or exercise. So take the main lessons that you learned throughout the year and let them have fun looking at the subject matter through another angle—a game or other activity. Before you know it, they’ll be leaving school for the year talking about how science class was the best class they had this year!