Teaching Tip #8 – Engaging in Learning

Engaging in Learning

Six strategies to help engage your students in learning – Part 1


You’ve designed a great lesson full of great strategies that lead your students in their learning. You begin the lesson, but within the first few minutes, the students have checked out. Something didn’t engage your students through the lesson. What did you do wrong? How can you get your students to engage in learning?

While there are many strategies that can be used to keep your students engaged, six effective strategies have been outlined in Chip and Dan Heath’s free resource Teaching that Sticks. The six strategies presented in the resource are:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Story

Simple – Another way to describe this strategy, is to make connections using simple analogies. Teaching fractions? Connect it to eight pieces of pizza. Teaching variables? Connect it to cups of information. Simple ideas are able to connect something students know, to something they don’t know. They are the starting block that leads to deeper learning later on.

Unexpected – Begin your lesson with a completely unexpected idea. Draw your students in by delivering a gap of knowledge that is, well, unexpected. The easiest way to do this is to deliver an unexpected question. Why do some people go bald, and others don’t? How did gamers unlock the mystery structure of a protein in 3 weeks, that had previously stumped scientists for over a decade? Starting your lesson by showing your students what they need to learn, in an unexpected way, can keep them engaged throughout.

Concrete – When teaching abstract concepts (mathematical functions, honesty, prejudice), connect them to something in real life. Role play situations that allow students to experience the importance of honesty, or the pain of prejudice. Run an experiment that outlines the data within a mathematical function. Giving your students real life experience in abstract concepts allow sensory connection to the learning.

The second half of this article will be published here tomorrow, showing all 6 strategies that Chip and Dan Heath outline in their excellent resource, Teaching That Sticks.

2 thoughts on “Teaching Tip #8 – Engaging in Learning

Leave a Reply