Sunday, July 1, 2018

Ease Into Engagement

Everyone is talking about engagement.
  • songs
  • chants
  • picture books
  • room transformations
  • costumes
  • props
It can be a little overwhelming to say the least.

We have tried many of the above.
Some were very successful.
Some were not.

Trying new engagement strategies is all about taking a leap, or even a baby step. It is what you are ready for. We are not going to say it is what you are comfortable with because growing requires us to step out of our comfort zones!

Our team is made up of ambitious over achievers so we have a tendency to take leaps. Big ones! This is good for you.  We are ready to share some tips and tricks we learned from our leaps with you.

Adding music to your day is a quick, easy and free way to increase engagement. Have music playing as students enter the classroom.
Kidz Bop is great for elementary students. The upbeat songs will wake the students up and get them in a good mood. The kids know all the current songs because they hear them at home, however they are not always appropriate. Kidz Bop makes them appropriate!

This may not seem like an engagement strategy but not only will the music wake the students up, it will make them unpack and follow morning procedures a little quicker so you can get your day started! During afternoon procedures allow students to sing along as they pack up but don't allow them to have a conversation with others. This will REALLY speed the pack up process along!

Pandora is a free option. If you are an Amazon Prime member, use the Prime Music feature. Prime Music is free with Amazon Prime. Best part.....There are no commercials!!!!!!!

I have a post on Instagram with more info about Prime Music. Click {here} to see it.

Songs and Chants
Songs and chants are always a favorite. They get students engaged and help them retain content.

Writing songs and chants can take time.
A lot of time!

Internet to the rescue! Search Pinterest or put what you are looking for out there on Twitter or any Facebook groups you are part of. {There are lots of grade specific and content specific Facebook groups out there!}

After you find songs or chants the next step is actually teaching them to your students. This can be scary, especially if you sing and keep a beat as poor well as us!

Internet to the rescue again! Search for instrumental or karaoke versions of the songs you are using. Play it, type up the words and have your students sing along!

Picture Books
Students of all ages love to be (and should be) read to!
And not just during the ELA block.

Picture books can be expensive. Check your school or public library, buy one copy and share it with teammates or other grade levels or find it being read on YouTube. Be sure to SafeShare videos you find on YouTube before you show your class.

Room Transformations
Room transformations are one of our favorite things.
They take time. A LOT of time.
They take work. A LOT of work.
They take money. A LOT of money.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.
We have all heard the cliche' but it is so true, especially when it comes to room transformations.

Work as a team to transform one classroom and make a rotation schedule so multiple classes can benefit from the transformation. If you have an empty space/room on campus, ask administration if you can use it. Tell them it is to increase student engagement and they will most likely be all for long as it is standards based and the activities are rigorous!

Only teacher in your grade level or only one on your team that is up for a transformation? Ask another grade level to create activities and transform a space together. Administrators and students love vertical collaboration.

Transforming one space will save time, work and money! It is a good way to ease into room transformations.

When purchasing or creating things to use in room transformations, go with solid colors. This way the items can be used for multiple transformations.

Plastic table cloths from Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree are great for covering walls. They are lighter and easier to hang than paper. Hang them with paper clips instead of tape. Paper clips will keep them from falling down when the air shuts off for the evening (yup, happened to us twice). It also makes it easier to keep the table cloths in good shape so they can be used again.

Add special sound effects to your room transformations. Again, Pandora and Prime Music to the rescue! It is a small added touch that takes your room transformation to the next level.

Costumes and Props
Dress up or add a prop and you have your students' attention!

Teaching your most difficult or uninteresting content? Add glasses, a hat, a wig or a wand and you have immediately increased student engagement.

Since you are the only one using/wearing the costume or prop, you only need one. Check the clearance section at dollar stores and party stores, especially after holidays. You might even get lucky and be able to purchase props for all of your students for very cheap! We found class sets of mustaches in a clearance bin at a party store last week for $1.

So, are you ready to ease into engagement?

Whether you are ready to take a giant leap or just a baby step it is important to remember to start with standards and maintain academic rigor. 


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