Last week we celebrated the Vernal Equinox, and spring has sprung! Spring carries a sense of anticipation, and a restless urge to be outside, enjoying the weather. You may be feeling it already – and you know your students are, too. This seasonal syndrome is so prevalent there's a term for it: Spring Fever.
So how do you combat the phenomenon and maintain a productive classroom? We compiled some suggestions from educators around the country, and organized them into 8 great tips to help you forge through to summer. The underlying goal: maintain student engagement through activity, creativity, and a little fun.
#1 – Go With The Flow
The students are itching to get outside, so why stand in their way? Expand your classroom beyond its walls, with outdoor activities and field trips. This is the perfect time to incorporate nature in your lessons, or visit educational points of interest. Activities could include:
- Nature hikes
- School or park beautification
- Lessons in agriculture at a nearby farm
- Reenactment of historical events
#2 – Keep It Moving
While in the classroom, burn off pent-up energy with activities that get students out of their seats:
- Group projects and live presentations
- An exercise physiology lesson (increased respiration, heartbeat, etc.)
- Reenacting scenes from books or plays
- A game of "concentration," with students acting as both the cards and the contestants
Even an organized seat swap could give students the chance to stretch their legs and gain a fresh perspective.
#3 – Get Creative
The more creative and unique the project, the higher the engagement level. This is also the students' chance to get creative, as you task them with:
- Trying a mock court case
- Making a movie
- Providing coverage of local or mock news stories
- Building or designing a structure
- Creating a treasure hunt using clues from past lessons
#4 – Ease Up
Hopefully the hardest and heaviest assignments are already behind you. As you start the home stretch toward summer, your students' attention spans will contract, so plan shorter assignments, lots of variety, and lessons that incorporate a little fun.
#5 – Give Them Choices
When students have a say in their own destiny, they’re bound to engage. Capitalize on their personal interests and look for projects with relevance in their lives. Let them customize their end-of-year project and express their creativity.
#6 – Spark Competition
Let your students show off what they’ve learned this year, in some friendly competitions. Pit teams against each other in tests of knowledge and creativity. Give points for multiple aspects of the project, so that each teammate can leverage their individual strengths. For example, one student may know more answers, but another may give a better presentation, or create better visual aids.
Challenge students to also compete against themselves, and top their personal best on assignments.
Since engagement increases when there's "skin in the game," offer small prizes.
#7 – Use Technology
Technology fascinates today’s youth, so use it as an engagement tool whenever possible. Incorporate multimedia and internet searches in your lesson plans. Spark student imagination with discussion of intriguing recent innovations (see our blogs on the top STEM discoveries of 2016, virtual reality, and hot trends in engineering). Then ask them to list their top five favorite inventions in history, and describe 5 new inventions they’d like to see.
#8 – Never Surrender
Keep students focused on what’s going on now – not daydreaming about vacation. Make sure they know their performance matters as much now as it did earlier in the year. Give some "throw-back" quizzes, to see if they still remember what they learned in the fall. Or “flash forward” with a sneak peek of lessons and activities coming in the next year. Conduct a survey on projects they've completed. They'll appreciate the chance to share their opinions, and their feedback may prove interesting.
Most importantly, let them know it's not summer yet, and there's still a lot of learning to do!