Let’s set a scene: you’ve been working on a fun lesson plan for your class, spending hours outside of your classroom preparing to educate your students or campers through learning and play. You begin your lesson and ask an open ended question — only to hear crickets. No answers.
Why is this? How can it be avoided? Participating in class should be fun, but often it can be difficult to get children involved. Here are some tips to help increase class participation.
1. The power of teaching each other
Whether you’re teaching grade-schoolers or teenagers, you’ll typically get more output from kids when they’re responding and working with each other. Next time you’re lacking on the participation front, try using breakout groups! Assign a prompt or a fun activity and be hands off for a bit as your class dives in. And don’t worry — being silly is okay! Learning through laughter (even if you get a bit off topic..) is a great way to get engaged.
You’ll be surprised at the ability kids have to teach one another. Plus, when they come back to the full class setting they’ll be more energized to share their learnings.
2. It’s okay to keep it simple
Detailed questions often require detailed answers. If you’re looking to bolster up your class participation, sometimes it’s best to keep your questions simple. “What does that mean to you?” or “What do you think about that?” are all generic, but can be an easy way to open the conversation and get a wide spectrum of answers.
Once you get your conversation started, you can segway to slightly more detailed questions.
3. Let the children drive the ship!
Do students get a “say” during your class? One of the biggest reasons that kids tune out is because they feel their ideas don’t matter. Try to open the door to a more free-flowing conversation and lesson plan by letting your students drive the conversation. Don’t worry — we’re not saying they need to create the lesson, but they can be part of choosing the adventure. For example, if you’re teaching an intro art lesson about drawing, maybe ask what your students would like to learn first?
By guiding your lesson plan loosely based on what your students are interested in or want to learn first, you’ll help them be more engaged.
4. Fun is always the winner
This might sound like a no brainer...but sometimes it can be difficult to implement! The best class environments come when everyone is totally relaxed. Think of your lesson as something that should be collaborative. Embed jokes into your class, and questions related to pop-culture or activities you know your students are interested in (we’re looking at you, Roblox!).
Creating a classroom where every child feels like they have ownership over the experience means you need to take time to try and create an atmosphere where all students feel comfortable. Next time you feel class participation dwindling, try out one of these tips.