Student engagement has been described as the magic ingredient to successful learning. Without it, the transfer of ideas and information falls flat, and students often sit at their desks counting down the hours until the day is over. So, how can teachers reach these students who feel unreachable and maximize learning in the classroom?
We spoke with top StudySync® customers and ELA experts to get their take on how to effectively engage middle and high school students in the learning process.
Speak Their Language
With so many different forms of advertising, entertainment, and media competing for students’ attention, engaging students is definitely challenging. Clarissa Romano, Lead Writer and Director of Video Curriculum at StudySync, suggests that “asking students to use their devices to access exciting, relevant, and important content,” is both inviting and comfortable for students. As a result, students readily engage in “active learning,” with StudySync where they can “express their ideas and opinions, and access a digital library with built-in entertainment features.”
Kate Hertz, a high school teacher in Geneva, IL agrees with this opinion, stating that she has found that StudySync’s digital content “challenges students, yet engages them in learning using modes that are increasingly pervasive in modern culture.”
Mix it Up
Attracting students’ undivided attention is compounded by the fact that, as StudySync Curriculum Specialist, Sarah Nolan, points out, “we live in a world that has undergone a fundamental shift in how information is stored and distributed. School is no longer about giving students the facts we want them to know—they can find all those facts on their own.” Now, teachers have to adjust the process of teaching. Multimedia tools like StudySync shift the focus from transference of content to subject mastery. In StudySync, Nolan shares, “even the questions inspire engagement because they ask students to explain the significance of texts in their own words.”
Catlin Tucker, a high school teacher from Windsor, CA, agrees that “with StudySync, students can engage with a variety of media, read a wide range of texts, annotate digitally, listen to audio recordings, watch video clips, and anonymously provide peer feedback on each other’s work.” By providing students with a variety of texts, media, and learning styles, you can maximize opportunity for engagement and transference of information through student fact finding and analysis versus a teacher-centric lecture.
Cynthia Bettini, a high school teacher from American Canyon, CA points to her favorite student quote from last year: “Hey Ms. B., we were discussing [the text]in our group yesterday and I realized, ‘This is just like StudySync!'” For her students, StudySync has become synonymous with sharing ideas and discussing them without a teacher to facilitate.
By mimicking program content, like StudySync® TV, through classroom activities, students draw parallels between what they have seen and what they are being asked to do. “Instead of a teacher lecturing through a text and telling students the answers they’ll need for the test, the focus is on the way students engage in the text and make meaning from it,” shares Nolan. Essentially, teachers helping students creating meaning through real-world experiences fosters student engagement.
Developing student engagement in the classroom can be a challenge, but by speaking their language, mixing it up, and providing reinforcement with activities and real-world experiences, teachers can draw students in. For more ideas, see our other tips for engaging students with multimedia resources.