Chelsea Asher is an educator and teaching artist, living in Queens, NY. She has worked as an educator for over five years, where she has cultivated and facilitated original creative writing and visual arts curriculum for students aged three to sixty-three.
This article is part of the third unit of our “Get Set, Connect, Engage!” Back to School Series for Teachers. Today we’re focusing on how teachers can Engage elementary students.
You can access the other blogs in this series here:
- Get Set – With a Plan to Get the Most Out of 1:1 Devices This Year
- Connect – Teaching with a SEL Perspective to Connect with Students This Year
- Engage – How to Build Engaging Lessons for Elementary School Students Using Kiddom
- Engage – How to Build Engaging Lessons for Middle School Students Using Kiddom
Most teachers will know how to plan and organize their curriculum effectively, but how do you know when your students are truly engaged?
Student engagement is a complex topic, particularly as children grow up in a digital age notably different from that of their teachers. This was a notion I was confronted with often as I taught reading and writing skills to K-5 children remotely this past year. The biggest challenge in creating educational materials in the remote space was learning how I could utilize technology to create lessons that kept my students focussed and learning, rather than over-complicating my material and allowing students to deviate from the class.
The lessons I learned were hard won – particularly as I had to organize my curriculum across multiple platforms. Even something as simple as this can result in students disengaging from the lesson, particularly in the remote space. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the tactics I use to keep my elementary kids engaged and how you can use Kiddom to do it, too!
Many young learners are particularly visual when it comes to how they process information. Visual literacy is an extremely important skill and can set a great foundation for higher-functioning literacy and critical thinking. Adding visuals to your activities and lessons can also create opportunities for deeper engagement as it opens up learning access points for visual learners.
In Kiddom, you can see how multiple learning access points can be created in even a simple multiple choice quiz. Students can clearly understand by watching the video, looking through the images, and listening to the audio content what is expected of them in this activity, while it also enriches their critical thinking skills to seek out the correct answers based on the information they’re given.
Visuals are important not just for students to receive information, but also for how they can express what they understand. When completing assignments, students can draw their answers to questions in live time, or take a photo of their drawings in their workbooks and upload them. Incorporating space for student-created drawings and visuals into our lessons and activities is not only important for younger learners, it can also be incredibly beneficial for our ELL students. Utilizing videos and pictures, alongside auditory and written prompts, can help support ELL students in understanding activities and completing their work independently.
Reduce the Cognitive Load
Students will feel most confident in engaging with something new when they already understand how they are expected to complete their tasks and have consistent materials to interact with. Something as simple as being able to permanently embed the necessary tools into a program can make the difference between a student successfully and independently completing an assignment, and a class full of frustrated first-graders raising their hand because they can’t make the pencil icon appear.
A lot of technology used in schools is not created with an early childhood-friendly interface in mind, meaning the learning curve of some softwares can alienate younger students before they even attempt to engage with that day’s class. In Kiddom, you can streamline tabs for younger students by embedding external tools, as shown in the picture above.
Differentiate Your Questions
When checking for understanding, it can be tempting to go with standard multiple choice quizzes. However, monotonous question types and activities can cause some students to disengage and do the bare minimum to complete assignments. Simply differentiating question types can create opportunities for students to remain engaged as they work different parts of their brain and elements of understanding to complete them.
Kiddom allows educators to differentiate their question types within assignments easily with suggested templates such as Fill-in-the-Blank questions.
Different question types can be adjusted based on age, subject area, and even individual student needs. For example, Ordering Questions, like the one pictured below, can be used not only for younger students learning size sequence, but also for older students learning about more challenging concepts, such as paragraph structure.
The Right Resources
Engaging your students in your curriculum can come down to simply having the right resources and materials on hand. Particularly under current pandemic protocols, it’s more important than ever to have lessons that are easily translatable from in-person to remote instruction.
With Kiddom, all of your class materials, such as presentations, assignments, and more, can exist in one place and be easily accessed by you and your students.
Read-aloud videos, such as with Kiddom’s Open Up Resources, that incorporate a combination of auditory and visual prompts for students to practice their reading skills are an excellent tool for not just your younger students, but also for children with different accessibility needs and ELL students.
Sometimes finding new and refreshing resources can be the most challenging part of creating engaging classes. If you are bored of teaching your concepts the same, tired way, then how are your students going to get excited to learn them? Kiddom can help you streamline how you select content with your students’ classwide and individual abilities in mind with the Kiddom Content Library. Kiddom also allows you to track student progress and understanding in different subject areas, meaning you will have a more immediate picture of what students may currently need more support with.
Creating engaging lessons for your students is not just about the tools and resources you bring into the classroom. It’s about building strong connections with your students, honoring their unique needs to grow and succeed, and allowing everyone (teachers included) to try new things and make mistakes. Even if you’re not as technologically savvy as your students, with a little legwork, you can still prepare engaging lessons that are transferable between remote and in-person classrooms and that your kids will love, too!
Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.
For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.
Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?
Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.