How to Keep Students Engaged: Interactive Teaching Activities to Maintain Student Engagement

How to Keep Students Engaged: Interactive Teaching Activities to Maintain Student Engagement

Published: February 8th, 2024

As an educator, you know all too well that keeping students engaged is something that you have to think about constantly. In today’s digital world, there are a myriad of distractions right at their fingertips. That’s why it’s important to have a set of interactive student engagement strategies to help guide your lesson plans throughout the year.

In this article we will list out 9 interactive classroom activities to maintain student engagement, aimed at children and young people of all ages.

Student Engagement Definition

Firstly, it is important to understand what student engagement is. In the field of education, student engagement refers to the level of attention, interest, and commitment students show in the classroom. The definition also encompasses the level of motivation students have to progress their education and continue their studies.

Equally, student engagement can apply to how the wider school leaders, teachers, and other adults have successfully engaged students in the governance and decision-making processes of the school itself. This means that student engagement strategies can take many forms, including:

  • School-wide surveys.
  • Student presentations to the school’s board of directors.
  • Giving a classroom the choice of what kind of group work they do.

1. Ask the Students

One of the easiest and simplest ways to get students engaged is to simply ask them what engages them. If you have a flexible lesson plan for a particular module, you can ask for your classroom’s input on its delivery. For example:

  • Offering a choice of different interactive activities (such as group work, quizzes, or solo work).
  • Periodic check-ins to see if everyone in the classroom is feeling confident about the material already covered.
  • Choice of final assessment.

2. Get the Students Moving

Movement is a simple and interactive classroom activity that engages students and releases any pent-up energy. Instead of having your class sit still during their lessons, try:

  • Splitting the classroom into groups and getting them to each work on an assignment.
  • Bringing students to the front of the class to interact with the digital whiteboard and brainstorm ideas together.
  • Having the students periodically switch desks or switch groups.

3. Gamify your Lessons

One of the most powerful sources of engagement for classes of any age is the humble game. By transforming lessons into games, you introduce a level of friendly competition to the learning environment, which helps to motivate the students and encourages participation. There are many examples of how to gamify learning, but some of our favorites are:

  • Give the students pieces of paper to write their answers to problems and get them to hold the answers above their heads when they’re done. You can then tally the scores up to see who has won.
  • Reward learners for right answers with some kind of prize. This could be in the form of a daily, weekly, or monthly token that students collect throughout the year. Equally, you could create a visual leaderboard on your interactive whiteboard that tracks the progress of the students with a digital avatar of their choice.  

4. Quick Writes

Quick writes are a type of short journaling that is great for self-reflection and an ideal way to fill any dead time with an interactive activity. Before or after class, challenge students to write a short paragraph about their previous lesson based on a thematic question of your choice. For mathematics, this could be, “What do I understand/not understand from the class?”. For science, it could be, “Tell me everything you remember about X…”. For reading and comprehension, it could be, “What do you think happens at the end of the story?”.

5. Reflective Breaks

One important way to keep students engaged throughout the day is to give them moments to think about something else. There’s no limit to what you can do during a brain break, which is why we’ve recommended a few tried and tested ideas:

  • Do a one-minute drawing of the lesson.
  • Play a round of silent ball.
  • Get everyone to change places.
  • A short game of “Would you rather?”
  • Have students line up using specific criteria (alphabetically or by size).

6. Digitize your Teaching

Digitizing your teaching activities allows you to present your lessons through a number of different interactive mediums, such as audio, video, and other digital resources. This will allow your students to cut down on papers and handouts (that could easily go missing) and create a relevant connection with the digital world that they’ve grown up in. For example, using the Explain Everything interactive whiteboard software, you could create an animated solar system, highlighting the planets’ orbital periods. You can present the lesson on your ActivPanel and quiz your students on their retention.

7. Keep Communication Channels Open

One of the most common barriers to student engagement and active learning is a lack of open communication. From the beginning, your courses should prioritize communication, participation, and feedback. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including instructor-led conversations about the topic, learner-initiated discussions, and group discussions during class.

8. Engage with their Interests

As a way of engaging students and creating positive interpersonal relationships with your classroom, it’s important to discover and engage with your pupils’ interests. Add their favorite sport or movie to a problem that you’re working on or allow them to use their smartphones to undertake a classroom poll regarding a subject they’re passionate about and link that to your overall lesson plan.  

9. Clear and Digestible Learning Goals

Students are engaged and learn more when they know exactly what is expected of them. Setting clear learning outcomes helps to keep pupils focused on the subject and stops them from becoming overwhelmed by bigger tasks. Make sure your classroom activities are broken down into achievable steps and use these steps to guide the classroom towards your desired academic outcome.

This is also a great way to introduce reminders periodically throughout the lesson, giving each student the chance to voice any concerns they might have.  

Explain everything and student engagement

Fostering student engagement is vital in our digital age, where there are always plenty of distractions. The interactive strategies outlined in this article offer practical ways for educators to captivate students of all ages. From asking students for input to gamifying lessons and embracing digital tools, these methods create a dynamic learning environment. As you implement these strategies, remember that adaptability is key. Take the first step towards transforming your teaching—incorporate these techniques to inspire active participation, collaboration, and a love for learning.

Learn more about Explain Everything and how it can be your all-in-one tool for engaging lessons, and help you deliver engaging and dynamic classes to help student engagement.