20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student EngagementIt’s Spring Break but I’m still doing a little (school) work.  I went to a workshop this week on strategies for improving student engagement.  I have to say I was excited about the workshop until I had to get up early during my spring break…  I complained the entire time I was getting ready (while everyone else slept in).  I even considered not showing up but I had committed >:-|

Once I arrived at the workshop, I had had one cup of coffee, I was on my way to being awake, and I was happy to see all of my teacher friends.  When the workshop began we participated in several “get up and move around” activities.  These activities got my blood moving and I was ready to learn!

Many of the engagement strategies that I learned today, I had already used but somewhere along the way they were put to the side and forgotten.  There were 20 strategies covered in the workshop.

20 Easy Strategies for Student Engagement

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

KWL is a graphic organizer used to activate students’ prior knowledge, set goals for learning, and discuss what was learned.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

The teacher will pose a question/statement.  The students will first think about the question or statement.  There should be no talking during the think part of this strategy.  Next, the students will turn to a partner and share their thoughts with the partner.  Each student should have only one partner.  Finally, select pairs will share their thoughts with the class. Students can agree or disagree but all conversation should be positive. I like to use this strategy with my shy students because they don’t feel so alone when they share with a partner.  (Another version of this strategy is Think-Write-Pair-Share.)


Famous Pairs
This sounds like a really fun way to pair students!  Famous Pairs is a way to partner students using famous pairings like Mikey Mouse and Minnie Mouse or Ketchup and Mustard.

I am definitely planning to use this strategy in my classroom!  I have already made the pairing cards for the activity.  You can download those here.  My plan is to hand the students a card as they enter the classroom.  Once the students are in their seats and have completed the bell ringer, I will tell the students which image/pair to use on their card to pair up.  Each card will have at least two “famous” pairs so the students won’t be able to swap cards and end up with a friend.  There are more detailed directions with the pairing cards.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

True/False Sort
Students will work in small groups or pairs to sort statements that are true or false.  I can also use these in math with correct and incorrect problems. (I love it when the students find math mistakes!)


Three Person Jigsaw
A 3 person jigsaw is were each person reads a separate page or portion of a longer text.  Then he/she must report what they’ve read to the other two members of the group so that every member of the group has the same information.I have done something similar to this in my classroom so I’m building on this strategy by having the group teach the information they gathered from the reading to the rest of the class.  This also gives me a chance to make sure none of the important information was overlooked.


Response Cards
In this strategy students will use index cards, signs, dry-erase boards, communicators, magnetic boards, or other items that can be simultaneously held up by the students to indicate their response to a question  or problem presented by the teacher.

NOTE:  Communicators are simply a plastic page protector with a sheet of copy paper or notebook paper in it.  The students can write on the plastic cover with dry eraser and wipe it off like a dry erase board.  

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

Alphabet Summary
Students must find a word or idea that connects with the topic studied for each letter of the alphabet.  EX:  My subject is math so let’s use that for our topic.  A = Algebra, B = base, C = congruent, etc.  FUN!  I think it would be neat to set the students up in groups and have a race to see which group could finish the quickest.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

Quick Write
The teacher will introduce a single word or phrase to the class.  Students copy the concept on index cards.  Then the teacher will give the students two minutes to write whatever comes to their minds relative to the concept.  They may write freely using single words, phrases, sentence, etc. (spelling does not count!)  After time is called, ask volunteers to share their thoughts on the subject.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

Graffiti Wall
This is a great strategy for visual learners!  Graffiti Wall is where students use colorful writing tools to write words, phrases or pictures to show what they know about a topic.  I like to leave these up in my classroom and allow the students to add to them throughout the week.


Jumbled Summary
This strategy is primarily used in the Language Arts classroom.  It is when the teacher writes a key sentence from the learning on the board in jumbled order.  The students must use their new skills to correct the sentence.

NOTE:  This would be a great activity for the science class!  I can think of several cases in which this strategy could be use for science – I’m going to be sharing these with my science teacher friends when S.B. is over!  Now, for math, I’m going to be using this strategy with equations.  I’m sure there are other ways to use this but this was the first thing that came to mind.  I’m going to solve a multi-step equation problem and then cut the “steps” into strips and have the students put them in the correct order.  I think this will help my students REMEMBER!

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

Magnet Summary
You will need index cards for this activity but no magnets…  When students are given a reading passage that they need to summarize, have them use an index card to write down the words they think are important – the words that “POP” out at them.  The students should write 3 to 5 words on the unlined side of the index card (more for longer texts).  When the student has finished reading the text, they will turn the card over (on lined side) and write a summary of the text.  The student must include the “POP” words in their summary.  The “POP” words should also be underlined or highlighted.


Q/A Match
Each student in the classroom will receive a Q/A card.  The cards will have either a question or an answer on it.  The students will walk around the classroom to find their question or answer.  EX:  If a student has a card that says, “2+2” (Q), then they will be looking for the student that has a “4” (A) on their card.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

Anticipation Guide
The anticipation guide strategy is used prior to students reading a text.  It sets purposes for reading, it activates prior knowledge, and helps make connections with the text.  The students will make predictions about the text by writing complete sentences.  Tell the students that some of their predictions will be correct and some of them will be incorrect – that’s ok.  As a whole class, discuss the students’ predictions.  Students will now read the text to confirm or dismiss their predictions.  After reading the text, students will revisit their predictions and make corrections to the predictions as needed.


Carousel Brainstorm
The teacher will need to do a couple of things before class to prepare for this activity.  First, the teacher will write topics on chart paper.  Then the chart paper will be placed on the walls around the classroom.  When the students arrive, the teacher will put them into groups of 4 and assign each student a responsibility (timekeeper, writer, speaker, reader etc.).  Students will begin at the designated chart.  They will read the prompt on the chart paper and discuss the prompt as a group.  When the group has reach a consensus, the writer will write the response on the chart paper.

Students who finish early will wait until time is up.  When the teacher indicates time is up, the students will move to the next chart.  The group will read the prompt on the second chart paper and read the response from the first group.  Students will discuss the prompt and the response and record any new discoveries or discussion points.  Students will continue around the classroom until all of the prompts have been visited.  The teacher will then share the information from the charts and conversations heard during the activity.


One Pager
I really think this strategy sounds like fun!  I am definitely going to be looking for a math text to use with this strategy.  The students will read a text.  Then they will draw an image that represents the text – they cannot use an image from the text.  The student will then choose five words from the text and place them anywhere around the picture.  Next, the student will choose two sentences from the text and write these at the bottom of the picture.  Students should study their drawings, words, and sentences.  They will then write a summarizing/theme statement that expresses the meaning of the image and words.  The summarizing/theme statement must come from the student not the text.


Interactive Journal
This journal activity occurs after a lesson or reading.  The teacher will put the students into groups of 4.  Have the students fold a piece of paper into four quadrants.  In the first quadrant the owner of the paper will write their response to the lesson or reading.  Then they will pass the paper to their left.  The student (#2) will write a response to the lesson or reading.  The paper is passed and responses recorded until the paper returns to the original owner.


Say Something
This strategy would be best used with an aloud reading or small group reading.  The readers and listeners will stop a t strategically planned out parts of the book or passage.  They will say something related to the text. This is not an open-ended discussion.  Students can only say one thing.


Backwards Note Taking
The teacher will provide students with a T-chart or have the students make one on their paper.  They will label the left side, “My Notes”, and the right side, “Teacher Notes”.  Students read chunked text taking notes on the left side of their of their T-chart.  They compare their notes with a partner.  Then the teacher will give the students her notes and discuss important ideas and adds information not in the text.  Students will make corrections to their notes and add any additional information on the right side of the T-chart.

20 Easy Strategies for Improving Student Engagement

This is a strategy to think about the four main things that all writers have to consider in ALL content areas.  These four things are: Role of the Writer (Who are you as the writer), Audience (To whom are you writing?), Format (What form will the writing take: letter, ad, speech, poem?), and Topic (What’s the subject or point of the piece?)

I was curious about how I could use this in my classroom…  I’m still working on that…  BUT, I did find an interesting post.  It comes from The Teacher’s Cabinet by Lauren.  In her post, she describes this strategy in more detail and she has an alternate – A.R.A.F.T.


Entrance and Exit Slips
This strategy requires students to write responses to questions you pose at the beginning and/or end of class.  It helps both the teacher and the student know what they understand and express what or how they are thinking about the new information.  Slips can easily incorporate writing into the content area of your classroom.  It also requires the students to think critically.