Classic literary works and nonfiction materials can feel un-relatable to students and pose a challenge to teachers who want to actively engage their students in high-level discussions. We asked a few of our top StudySync® customers for their tried and true strategies to engage middle school and high school ELA students. Here are three quick tips utilizing multimedia resources in the classroom to foster student engagement:
1. Promote Understanding through Peer Modeling
Elizabeth E., a teacher in Fullerton, CA finds that modeling academic discussion for her students has helped to deepen their understanding of the class material. While she has used a variety of SyncTV episodes from StudySync in her middle school classroom, she points to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” as her favorite.
“When my students read ‘The Raven,’ they look at me as if I have lost my mind. They truly have no idea what it is all about,” said Elizabeth. “Having the chance to see other students discuss the poem in such an enthusiastic, intelligent manner has really helped my students understand it. I’ve heard them say, ‘Oh! I get it.’ Music to a teacher’s ears!”
2. Encourage Discussion in Context
Jodee B., an ESL teacher and LEP department chair in Charlotte, NC, notes that encouraging discussion that includes required background research and context has helped her students to be more engaged in the learning at hand.
“As an ESL teacher, I am often required to provide background knowledge for my students regarding authors, text, and historical events,” notes Jodee. “I found a Blast, ‘Dr. King’s Day,’ with related research links that provide a comprehensive picture of King’s contributions to the Human Rights movement and why he is celebrated and honored with a national holiday. Once I found these resources in StudySync, I was instantly able to scaffold a lesson that efficiently explains a very complicated aspect of the American experience.”
3. Make it Memorable
Kate H., a National Board Certified teacher in Geneva, IL suggests finding resources that are relevant and memorable. In her classroom, the SyncTV episode for Macbeth Act 1 sc. III does just that, and has quickly become a teacher and student favorite.
“My students giggle at the colloquial jargon used in the episodes, including ‘TTYL’ and ‘bounce,’ and still talk about it weeks later,” said Kate. “I love the skills being modeled and the variety of student abilities presented. The episode creates a great connection between content and modern students, and, more importantly, gave us all a strong, unifying experience that many students still reference in affectionate jest when they ‘TTYL and bounce’ from my class.”
Keys to success? Provide students a model for how to have productive discussions, supply them with research to give them context, and make it memorable!