Teaching Tip # 8.5 – Engaging in Learning

Engaging in Learning

Six strategies to help engage your students in learning – Part 2


What can you do to improve students engaging in learning? Below is a list – continued from yesterday’s article – of the six strategies from Chip and Dan Heath’s free resource, Teaching that Sticks. The final three strategies they present are continued in this teaching tip.

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

Credible – This strategy can be restated to something we’ve all heard – you have to see it, to believe it. When students are presented with claims or statistics, allow them an opportunity to experience what they will be learning. This grounds their experience with the data, and allows them to connect to the learning much easier.

Emotional – Connect learning to the heart, or gut. This can be used with great impact when students ask, “Why do we need to learn this?” Make the learning personal to the students and their lives. In their resource, the Heath brothers discuss a lesson on the Civil War, and having two students attempt to use a bone saw to cut through the femur of a cow. This elicited an extremely emotional response from the students, as the teacher connected that idea to the one of battlefield amputations. While appropriateness should always be considered, there is no doubt that this strategy can be used with great impact on making sure the learning sticks.

Story – Stories have been used to pass information down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Make use of this tool in your classroom. Build your lessons into stories, so students can remember the path easier. Bring stories into your classrooms from diaries, interviews, and testimonials. Real people inhabit the world we learn about, so make the learning real for your students, by bringing in their stories.

These six activities can help increase the engagement your students have within your lessons, and connect them to the learning. They can also, to an extent, create hooks to draw in your students to the lesson easier.

If you are looking for more reading, I would suggest checking out Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

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