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Why is this important?

Disengaged students are bored and distracted students, and they cannot learn what they're not engaged with.

  • Evoking what students already know about the topic and asking them to discuss and share that knowledge fosters their early investment in the material.
  • Breaking up lecture/demo with discussion and activity keeps them working with the material and gives them a chance to practice using the material while it's still fresh.
  • Assigning some kind of deliverable both charges their learning and helps you gauge their comprehension.


Facilitate active learning.

Isn’t all learning inherently active? Yes, but some activities are more active in ways that facilitate deep understanding and long-term learning. The ability to conceptualize and design creative artifacts requires higher-order thinking skills. Research suggests that for students to build these skills, they must do more than listen and watch during class time.

Learn more: Activities for Active Learning

Share Big Questions to spark students' curiosity.

Big Questions tap into both the students’ and the teacher’s passion in a discipline. Inviting students into an exploration of your discipline’s Big Questions keeps their curiosity alive and helps frame teaching as a collaboration, not as a one-way delivery of information. Students who are allowed to be curious feel that they are in control of their own education, which in turn makes them motivated and ready to learn. Big Questions also help us, the teachers, remember that we are still on a journey of learning.

Learn more: Big Questions

Help students connect what they already know to the lesson content.

Learning is easier when students can make connections between what they already know and the new information they're receiving. By finding out what they know and by making explicit connections between their existing knowledge and the content of your presentation, you help students make sense of new information. 

Learn more:  What Do Students Already Know?

Allow opportunities / time for students to think about content soon after it is introduced. Check their understanding at regular intervals.

Giving students time to process and work with the content you have presented ensure that the lesson sinks in. Discussions — more or less structured — are a simple way to get students thinking together about what they have learned.

Learn more:  Lively Discussions  |  Think-Pair-Share Activities

Shift the ratio of "teacher talk" to "student talk."

Students learn not just by listening but by struggling to articulate their ideas and their understanding. Make space for them to talk!

Learn more: Shift the Ratio of "Teacher Talk" to "Student Talk"

Try "flipping" the classroom.

Flipping the classroom means that students get content (lectures, demos) outside of class, then spend the class time applying the content to problems and grappling with questions they are still trying to understand. The instructor, instead of lecturing during class, presents students with specific problems to solve—problems designed to bring to the surface common misunderstandings.

Learn more: Flipping the Classroom

Create opportunities for students to demonstrate the progress of their learning before leaving the classroom.

A quick way to determine how well students are understanding is to use learning snapshots to assess what your students know, what they are learning or doing in class, and where they need more support.

Getting students working together is another great way to ensure they understood the day's lesson. Collaborative learning involves students working together — in pairs or small groups — to create, explore concepts, come up with solutions, and ultimately further their understanding and skills. Be sure to circulate to answer students' questions, address confusion, and provide feedback on progress while they are working. Knowing that you're keeping an eye on them also encourages students to focus on the task at hand.

Learn more:   Learning Snapshots  |  Group Work is Collaborative Learning  |  Shake Up Your Group Work with a Jigsaw

Make a Connection Between School and Work

Student success in the professional world depends on more than talent. Students need business, presentation, marketing and time management skills. Instructors can help bridge the gap between school and work by creating learning environments that replicate the workplace as closely as possible.

Learn more:  Making the Connection Between School and Work

Change it up!

Breaking up the day-to-day rhythm of the class with a field trip, a guest lecturer, or multimedia can be a great way to activate your students' interest and engagement. These activities will be more effective, if you spend a little time in advance in thinking through what you hope to accomplish.

Learn more:  Preparing for Field Trips and Guest Speakers  |  Using Videos Effectively

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