How Do You Keep Students Engaged at the Beginning and End of a Lesson?

students engaging in the classroom through technology

Published: January 25th, 2023

Keeping students engaged during a lesson can be challenging, and success is often reliant on how well you engage them at the start. Well-engaged students often achieve higher grades and have a better understanding of the lessons than students who are not engaged.

By implementing the techniques listed below, you’ll be able to provide the best possible education to all your students and keep their attention – even at the end of a long and intensive lesson.

What is student engagement?

Student engagement is difficult to define. Some researchers describe it as “an individual’s interest and enthusiasm for school, which impacts their academic performance and behaviour,” and this really hits the nail on the head.

Essentially, it is a way to describe how attentive, interested and excited a student is to engage with their subjects, as well as their teachers, classmates and work. Poor student engagement will often show as disinterest, tiredness and inattentive behaviour. It will also have a direct impact on their academic results.

Why is student engagement important?

Student engagement is vital, as it directly impacts success. If students are engaged with the subject matter, they’ll be attentive in class and retain the necessary information with more ease than if they were disengaged.

Disengaged students can miss out on all-important lesson content, which has a huge impact on their ability to perform well in class assignments and tests. Disengagement has knock-on effects on the student’s ability to connect well with others, and can create a disruptive environment in the classroom.

A student doesn’t have to be academically gifted in order to be engaged in the classroom. For those who find the academic world more of a challenge, getting engaged with lessons could be the key to unlocking their potential.

How to engage students at the start of a lesson

A great way to ensure that students are engaged and excited about the upcoming lesson is to start the class with a fun activity or an attention-grabbing introduction. Tailor these activities to your class by learning about your students’ lives – find out about their interests, hobbies and learning styles.

It is important for teachers to assist with improving students learning strategies, which can be achieved by encouraging active learning and participation in the classroom.

The following are a few simple steps you can take for better engagement!

1. Get your students moving

An important aspect of keeping your students’ attention is to understand that few people can sit still and concentrate for extended periods of time. Consider adding some stretching to the start of the lesson or a few light aerobic exercises to help students loosen up and wake up their brains.

If you have an interactive display, try showing a Yoga or other exercise video so students can follow along. 

students doing yoga at school using the Promethean ActivPanel interactive display

Including various physical activities in the classroom is a great way to improve attention and concentration. If you have neurodivergent students in your class, consider having students stand and work at a standing desk for part of the lesson or have fidget toys freely available for use.

Learners with ADHD or ASD often find that fidgeting helps them to focus and remain engaged – the action is referred to as ‘stimming’. It helps to prevent distractions or outbursts resulting from pent-up energy.

Another way to incorporate physical activity into your lesson is to add an activity that relates the subject to the students on a personal level. “If you have experienced X, move to the right of the classroom”. This promotes movement while encouraging students to engage with each other. It also helps them to relate the lesson content to their own experiences.

2. Start class with a mind warm-up

Adding a brain teaser to the start of your lessons is a great way to engage students quickly, as well as help activate their brains for any upcoming classwork. This can take the form of individual tasks, or you can play a fun, brain-activating game with the entire class.

A great example of this is doing a word unscramble exercise in English class, where students need to find the main word as well as as many other words as possible in a specific time frame. You can introduce a small prize for whoever gets the main word first and for whoever gets the most words. Promethean’s ClassFlow software allows students to use their own devices and mirror the teacher’s screen for optimal participation. 

Not only do brain warm-up activities increase student engagement during the lessons, but they also help students to develop their creative thinking skills and ensure that students are actively thinking about the teaching material from the get-go.

3. Create meaningful pre-work

This is common practice in the flipped classroom model but can greatly assist student learning and increase student engagement in standard classrooms as well. Meaningful prework can include reading, videos or podcasts related to the topic that will be covered in class the following day.

Implementing this teaching method can help create an engaging learning environment as it reduces the time spent standing in front of the class, giving a lecture, and increases the time that can be spent on active learning.

By introducing prework, you can accommodate different learning styles with more ease and have a greater chance of students paying attention to the learning activity during class time.

4. Begin the lesson with an interesting fact

Bring the attention of the students to the lesson’s subject matter by starting class off with an interesting and related fact. Not only is this a great way to wake up their brains, but it’ll also increase their general knowledge and is a quick and simple way to start a lesson off on an fun note.

5. Introduce some friendly competition

Provide students with the opportunity to get to know each other and compete with each other by introducing a group work learning activity at the start of class. Each small group can complete a timed task, and the group that completes it first can be rewarded, as can the group that completes the task most successfully.

How to engage your students at the end of a lesson

It can be difficult to keep students engaged at the end of lessons, as their brains will be fairly saturated. Introducing reflective activities is a great way to retain engagement. Requesting students to perform these tasks in a small group setting can make the end of the lesson more fun.

If you’d prefer to keep students quiet and focused at the end of the lesson, utilising online communication for these activities is a great alternative.

Here are a few ways you can keep students captivated, even at the end of the day.

1. Use short, reflective writing tasks 

Create a short questionnaire for your students to fill out at the end of the lesson or put some questions up on the board. These questions will focus on the content covered that day. 

This activity will help them to reflect on how well they have understood the content, whether they have noticed any gaps in their knowledge or if there are areas that they’re struggling with. Students can also give feedback on the pace of the class and their experience of the learning process.

This is a fantastic way of allowing students to express themselves and will help you to engage them successfully in the future. Giving students the opportunity to give feedback also helps to create a positive learning environment and makes them feel valued and heard.

2. Fill in “dead time”

Sometimes, there can be “dead time” at the end of a lesson, as some students will finish their work faster than others. To continue engagement, have a few fun extra tasks and activities available in the classroom that students can use to fill the dead time.

By keeping them engaged, you’ll be setting students up for success, as they will learn to maintain focus as well as valuable time management skills. Activities can include brain teasers, additional reading, creating a small research project, or even just getting a head start on the next day’s work.

3. Pair students up for a short sharing task

When you’re reaching the end of the lesson, pair your students off and ask them to speak to their partner for 30-60 seconds about what they’ve learned in the lesson. This will help them to solidify the information in their minds and will also give them the opportunity to fill in any gaps.

Their partner may have picked up on slightly different information, and sharing this will allow both partners to have a better understanding of the lesson.

General tips for improving student engagement

A key aspect of keeping students engaged at the start and end of a lesson is understanding how to keep them engaged during the lesson itself. Improving student engagement at the start of the lesson is pointless if you aren’t able to maintain students’ engagement for the rest of the time as well.

We’ve compiled a few key tips for engaging with your students and making sure that the classroom is a fun and motivating environment for their learning.

1. Engage with your students’ interests

At the beginning of the year, find out what gets your students excited. What are their hobbies, interests, fears and passions? Learning about your students will allow you to improve your teaching style and make it easier to relate your topics to real life in a way that is relevant to their experiences.

When choosing case studies, try to find ones that your students will find relatable and will keep their interest. This will make your teaching experience more enjoyable and will help your students to feel that you care and are taking a genuine interest in their lives and success.

2. Encourage students to present and share work regularly

Consider adding an interactive display or interactive whiteboard to your classroom to make presentations and teaching more exciting. Not only will this allow students to be more creative, but it will also teach them vital tech skills. The included teaching software will also make lesson planning much easier and more fun.

Group work presentations are also a great way to encourage student interaction and increase their engagement with the subject. Discussing the topics with their peers will allow them to engage with various views and help them have a broader understanding of the teaching material.

3. Cater to multiple learning styles and levels of intelligence

While it would be incredibly convenient if all students had the same learning style, this is not the case, just as teachers don’t all have the same teaching style.

To provide all your students with the best possible education, you need to be aware of the various learning styles of your students so you can tailor your lessons to all of them whenever possible. The flipped classroom is a great way to ensure that as many students succeed as possible.

One way to manage the different learning styles is to equip your students with strong learning strategies, which will help them to enjoy school even when their teacher’s teaching style doesn’t match their learning style.

4. Include real-life examples

A great way to improve the education experience and help students relate to the content is to provide a relatable real-life example when you teach them about difficult subjects. While this is easier to achieve in an English or history lesson, with a little creative thinking, you’ll be able to come up with ideas for any subject.

5. Create a distraction-free learning environment

Creative classroom management can create an environment that is both distraction-free and conducive to learning while also being inspiring and fun. Making sure that your classroom is not too busy will help your teaching as well as assist students with concentration and focus.

Putting up useful posters with frequently-referenced information on the walls is a great way to make the classroom interesting without causing students to stop paying attention.

FAQs

How do you maintain student engagement?

Maintaining student engagement is easy if you use a few simple steps. Start your class with a fun activity or mind warm-up. Be tech-friendly – rather than seeing smartphones or other tech as a threat or problem, find ways to incorporate them into your classes.

Asking students to reflect on the lesson at the end of your classes is a great way to keep tabs on how students are coping with the subject matter and if there are any adjustments that need to be made to your lesson plans or structure.

Another important step in maintaining student engagement is to include movement in your lessons. Allowing students to move or stretch during a short break will help them focus better overall.

What are six ways to engage students?

Here’s a list of six easy ways to engage students:

  1. Incorporate movement into lessons
  2. Switch to a flipped classroom model
  3. Embrace educational technology
  4. Start your lessons with a fun activity that will engage their brains
  5. Encourage group activities and discussions
  6. Test students regularly

How do you keep kids engaged in activities?

It can be challenging to keep kids engaged when they’re struggling with the subject matter or activities. One way to assist them in keeping engaged with the activity is to celebrate any progress that they have made. This will boost their confidence and encourage them to continue trying.

Finding a way to relate the task to everyday real life is another way to help them engage with the activity. Many people struggle to complete tasks that they can’t relate to, as it is difficult to understand their purpose. Relating the task to something the child will encounter in normal life is a great way to keep them engaged.

An alternative method is to plan out how they’ll complete the activity ahead of time. By setting up goals and a plan to reach them, your kids will find it easier to remain focused on the task at hand. Breaking the activity down into smaller chunks will also make it less daunting and seem easier to complete.

How do you engage students in active learning?

Engage your students in active learning by incorporating appropriate active learning activities into your lessons. Group work involving problem-solving and in-depth discussion is a great way to help students learn important skills and engage with the content of the lesson.

Assigning projects focussing on a small aspect of the larger topic will allow each student to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and educate their peers on what they’ve learned.

Changing your classroom to a flipped classroom is another way to engage your students in active learning. This will allow them to engage with the learning material in a practical way while having you close by to answer any questions. This will improve their overall comprehension and confidence.

Engage Your Students Today With An Interactive Display

At Promethean, we believe students should always be kept engaged when learning. Our interactive displays and interactive display accessories allow teachers to delve into the possibilities of modern technology and connect with their students in an innovative way. 

For more information on how to use our interactive whiteboards and accessories, as well as useful tips and tricks, visit our educational resources.