Simple ideas for engaging pupils cognitively in a face-to-face, hybrid, or virtual setting.
The epidemic is far from ended; in fact, COVID-19 infections are expected to spike immediately after the next school year in 2021-2022. As a result, we’re not sure if we’ll be able to return to the classrooms in person. Preparing for unexpected scenarios as the school year begins is one of the most challenging tasks facing academic leaders and instructors. Face-to-face or hybrid classes with associated health protocols are primarily examined, as are 100 percent virtual sessions that do not jeopardize participants’ physical and mental well-being.
Students and professors are struggling to keep focused and interested in virtual classes after 17 months of the pandemic. Teachers are always looking for new ways to engage pupils in their studies. We may feel overwhelmed while determining which approaches, strategies, methods, or applications to employ in the class, even though we may locate many applications and programs on the Internet. I present easy suggestions for cognitively engaging students in this post, whether in a face-to-face, hybrid, or virtual learning environment.
“The pandemic is still going strong, with COVID-19 cases rising.” With the new school year approaching, all educators must be prepared to teach in various settings, including face-to-face, hybrid, and 100 percent virtual classes, without jeopardizing our physical and mental health.
I’d want to start with Gray and Madson’s (2007, p. 85) fascinating take on the jar and the glass story. “Before the dawn of time, a pitcher attempted to instruct a glass in a school not far from ours. The pitcher wanted to show him everything he had, so he poured everything into the glass as quickly as possible. It caught some of the water in the glass, but most ended up on the table. The story concludes that learning is what falls into the glass, not what is poured from the pitcher.” The student genuinely learns, retains, and can use in many situations the water that remains in the glass. This story includes an excellent suggestion for teachers to consider how kids learn, retain, and apply new concepts.
Suggestions for making your classes more appealing
I’ve taken some lessons from the epidemic, my teaching experience, and my lifelong learning. Here are some suggestions for improving your lessons’ cognitive engagement, effectiveness, and productivity.
- Establish a diagnosis
Find out what the pupils already know before introducing a new topic. It’s similar to what a mechanic does while overhauling a car: he connects it to a machine and runs diagnostics before removing bits and pieces. This might be as straightforward as a brief poll taken before or during class. You can also ask random students to contribute what they know about the week’s theme in a few sentences or write or draw anything related. “It helps students connect what they’re learning to what they already know” (Grey and Madson, 2007), which is critical for remembering and understanding new information and activating the student’s prior knowledge.
Making a rapid diagnosis has aided me in teaching better lessons, better organizing the week’s activities, and allowing students to reclaim earlier knowledge.
- Review what was accomplished in the previous class, session, or week.
Students’ memory is strengthened when asked to recollect previously remembered material. For example, inquire of two students to recollect what was discussed or witnessed in the previous session or week. What were the three most important ideas or concepts from the previous class, for example? Recollection and past knowledge this aids students in focusing on the class and activities. “A well-repeated retrieval stimulates higher retention, more than simply one,” writes Karpicke (2018).
- Make course expectations crystal clear.
With all of the distractions in the virtual, face-to-face, or hybrid classroom, students must understand precisely what is expected of them in terms of attendance, handing in assignments, group work, turning the camera on or off, course learning outcomes, how to contact the teacher, and everything else. As a result, it’s critical to express the course, weeks effectively, and even individual class requirements. Publish the learning objectives or outcomes and the pathway or plan for achieving them. When you know exactly what’s required of you, why you’re doing it, and where you’re heading, staying motivated and thriving is simpler.
For example, during the previous summer semester, I taught a one-month intensive bilingual education course for aspiring teachers. It discussed the course objectives, policies, activities, themes, and even the final project from the first day of class. The first week was a touch nerve-wracking for a couple of students because we didn’t know each other, and the course was presented in English (students’ native language was Spanish); moreover, it was their first time in the hybrid classroom. As a result, the first few days were spent discussing the learning outcomes he expected the students to attain, activities, themes, and the calendar. As a result, the students had a clear roadmap. They knew where the course was heading, which alleviated their anxiety and made for a pleasant experience with highly motivated students who could maximize their learning.
- Stop and rest.
Because of exhaustion, distractions, or other factors, our concentration in class can fluctuate. Consider taking small pauses during class to break up the content into more manageable chunks. Take a look at the following edX MOOC platform statistic: “Regardless of the duration of the video, the average attention span is 6 minutes.” As the length of the film increases, so does the time of attention and curiosity “(2013) (Guo)
If that’s the case in the videos, imagine how much the students remember during a 20-minute lecture. For example, remember the pitcher at the start of this paragraph pouring water into a glass?
Gray and Madson, on the other hand, state that a teacher can take three breaks in a 50-minute session and that when teachers adopt this broken process, pupils score better on exams. It prepared this proposal in 2007 based on university courses in which it spent the majority of the time in class with a university lecturer. Today, that class style has evolved into a more student-centered model, but the concept of breaks remains a fantastic one. For example, in an online class, you could send students to break rooms in pairs for 2 minutes to discuss their notes, as suggested by Gray and Madsen.
- During group work, assign roles.
According to the Center for Teaching and Learning, assigning different responsibilities to students during group work can give several benefits, including accountability for completing work and a clear description of what each student must do to keep on topic. (Please keep in mind that positions may rotate over the month or throughout the semester.) There are many other jobs, including those that ask questions, reflect, depict, summarise, and lead. You decide on the number of students and the most appropriate roles for your course.
- Encourage pupils to provide feedback.
We need feedback to improve our performance in the classroom or at work. Their feedback influences students’ learning and performance in class. Because most teachers have over 100 pupils, waiting for comments can take many days. As a result, the goal is to have students improve their critical thinking, language, and feedback abilities while speeding up the process through peer feedback.
What is peer feedback, and why is it important? Students remark on their peers’ activities, speeches, films, essays, and other material in this section. It’s not about providing a mark; it’s about critiquing a colleague’s work for its strengths, weaknesses, and ambiguities. Use the warm-cold feedback technique. “Peer feedback offers students control over their learning, boosts their engagement and self-awareness as learners, and frees up the teacher to provide targeted support where required,” according to Sackstein (2017).
- Engage in activities such as thinking or writing, forming small groups, and sharing.
The teacher asks pupils questions and then allows them 1-2 minutes to contemplate or write about them in this classic technique. After that, students are split into couples and placed into a “discussion room” to talk. Students are isolated in their private rooms to speak. Hence this activity works best in online discussion groups. The teacher can provide a tab in Google Sheets or a slide in Google Slides for students to write down their ideas in the breakout rooms. Students are in charge of demonstrating their participation in this way. When the students return to the main room, and the break rooms are closed, the teacher can go through the exercise with them.
- Tank for fish
The name is derived from the pupils’ inner and outer circle. Those in the fishbowl are in the inner circle, while the observers are in the outer circle. Try this fishbowl technique for in-depth discussions or debates if you have a big group of students. Here’s a video of it in action in a traditional classroom, but it may easily be adapted for usage in an online setting. For example, you can change it so that two, three, or four students debate or have an in-depth discussion about a topic while the rest of the class observes and provides feedback. It can also utilize in small groups or meeting rooms of 2-4 students, where two students argue or discuss while the other two sit back and watch. As a result, pupils can switch between speaking and watching roles.
- Self-evaluation or anonymous questionnaires
Consider having students reflect on and assess their learning through self-reflection or anonymous questionnaires to be aware of their learning processes. As they reflect on and analyze their learning and the course, let students take ownership of their learning. The following are some examples of possible inquiries. Which activity has provided you with the most learning opportunities? Which action has provided you with the least amount of new information? What do you find the most difficult to grasp? Keeping track of which exercises are productive and which need to be tweaked for better is beneficial for the teacher.
Making learning meaningful, connecting emotionally with your kids, discovering their hobbies, and more are some other ideas.
In short, the above list isn’t exhaustive; instead, it’s a collection of pointers to get you started on the path to better student involvement. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the section below.
Mary Meinecke has more than 20 years of teaching experience ([email protected]). She holds master’s degrees in both bilingual education and higher education. Mary is a professor at the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Monterrey. Virtual education, cognitive psychology, educational innovation, and swimming are her favorite things to do.
R. Ariel and J.D. Karpicke, R. Ariel and R. Ariel, R. Ariel and R. Ariel, R. Ariel and R (2018). A retrieval practice intervention for improving self-regulated learning. 24(1), 43–56 in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000133
M. Burns is an author who has published several books (2018). Designing rigorous learning in a tech-rich classroom using tasks rather than apps. ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is a non-profit organization based in Alexandria, Virginia,
Paulo Freire, Paulo Freire, Paulo Freire, Paulo Freire, Paulo Freire, Paul “Education as a financial business.” Eugene F. Provenzo’s book, Provenzo, is a collection of essays by Eugene F (ed.). A collection of readings on critical problems in education 105–117 in Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. OCLC 62324920, ISBN 1412936551.
T. Gray and L. Madson are two authors who have collaborated on a project (2007). Have a few simple ways to get your students to pay attention. https://doi.org/10.3200/ctch.55.2.83-87 College Teaching, 55(2), 83–87.
P. Guo: (2013, November 13). Student Engagement Video Length. https://blog.edx.org/optimal-video-length-student-engagement
Sackstein Sackstein Sackstein Sackstein Sackstein Sackstein S (2017). In the classroom, kids are empowered to be experts through peer feedback. ASCD.
H. Saldana, H. Saldana, and H. Saldana, H. Saldana, H. Saldana, and H. Saldana On May 6, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi4vo0YoEKM&t=840s, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi4vo0YoEKM&t=840s, https://www.youtube
R. Stobaugh is an author who has written several books on the subject (2019). Create a thinking culture in the classroom with 50 strategies to promote cognitive engagement. Solution Tree Press is a publishing house that specializes in the publication of
In group work, roles are used. For example, the Center for Teaching and Learning is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing education (2021, March 2). https://ctl.wustl.edu/resources/group-work-roles/#:text=Group%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20roles%20 %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% 20percentage of accountability 20% self-assurance