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5 Sure Fire Ways to Boost Student Engagement

Discover simple yet powerful strategies to captivate and maintain your students’ attention today! Transform your classroom into an exciting hub of enthusiasm with these engaging tips. Get ready to make this year your best one yet, filled with energy and eager learners!

class of students excited about learning and engaging with lessons

Picture this: You’re in the middle of a lesson, writing on the board, when suddenly, you hear a loud sigh. 

Glancing around the room, you see a few students gazing out the window, another one fiddling with her shoe, and several others digging through their pencil pouches. 

Uh-oh, you’re losing them.

Your brain flips into high gear: Why aren’t they paying attention? What can I do to keep them focused? 

You try speaking in a louder, more animated voice to reel them back in. 

But then, it happens: “This is boring!” 

And there it is. One student took the leap and announced it. Outloud.

Cue the frustration, self-doubt, irritation, and maybe even some anger. 

If you’ve been teaching for more than 15 minutes, you’ve probably experienced this rollercoaster of emotions. 

It’s like the harder you work to plan engaging lessons, the harder it becomes to hold their attention.

Now, let’s dive into some helpful tips and clever hacks to steer your class back on course!

1. Increase Student Engagement by Using Shorter Tasks

Breaking instruction into shorter, more manageable time frames and varying the tasks can work wonders for maintaining student engagement. 

Remember, students’ attention spans are limited, roughly matching their age in minutes.

So, for instance, if you’re teaching seven-year-olds, aim to keep their focus for around seven minutes per activity. 

This is where creativity comes into play in your lesson planning.

Think of ways to incorporate movement, peer discussions, writing prompts, manipulatives, and hands-on activities to keep students engaged and interested. 

Consider using crafts and reference aids for students’ notebooks.

These versatile tools allow you to segment lessons effectively. Start with a brief 5 to 10-minute lesson, then transition students into writing or cutting activities. 

After that, regroup for another instructional segment before moving on to coloring, problem-solving, and gluing.

Keep the cutting and assembly tasks short and sweet to maximize learning time and minimize down time. 


The Turn and Talk Method

The Turn and Talk Method is a fantastic way to deepen understanding and encourage cooperation and collaboration.

It’s simple yet highly effective: students turn to their neighbor and engage in a brief discussion about the material they’ve just covered.

Encouraging them to express concepts in their own words helps solidify their understanding and highlight areas of confusion.

Plus, there’s something magical about peer-to-peer teaching—students often have a knack for explaining things in a way their peers easily understand.

The Turn and Talk method both reinforces learning and also promotes support and a sense of community among classmates. Students can learn so much from one another.


Check out the Animal Report and Informational Writing resource on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Hands-On Learning 

Hands-on learning is incredibly effective for all types of learners because it allows students to engage with learning manipulatives and materials directly. Plus, students enjoy learning through hands-on experience rather than memorization or sitting and listening.

Research consistently shows that hands-on learning leads to higher retention rates compared to traditional methods.

When students are engaged in projects, manipulating objects, or performing experiments, they’re actively involved in the learning process, which boosts their understanding and memory of the concepts.

Hands-on learning includes a wide range of activities, such as projects, experiments, crafts, and the use of manipulatives.

These activities not only reinforce learning but also make it fun and engaging for students.

And the best part?

Students are so involved in the hands-on experience that they may not even realize how much they’re learning!


2. Keep ‘Em Guessing

To keep students engaged and alert, try using index cards or popsicle sticks with their names written on them. I kept a mug filled with popsicle sticks handy at all times.

During discussions or activities, I’d simply reach into the mug and pull out a stick. Whoever’s name was on it got to answer the question or participate first.

It’s a fantastic way to ensure fairness and randomness in student participation.

What I love most about this method is its simplicity and convenience.

No need to worry about always calling on the same students or keeping track of who’s had a turn recently. It takes the pressure off me and keeps everyone engaged because they never know when their name might come up!

Believe me, as a teacher, the days can blur together, and it’s easy to lose track of who’s done what. With the popsicle stick method, it’s one less thing to stress about. Plus, it adds an element of excitement to class discussions!


3. Include Real-Life in Your Lessons

Let’s get real – when someone is presenting new information to you, you immediately assign it a “priority level.”

We all do it – when we hear something new, we instantly decide how important it is. If it’s important or meaningful, we’re all ears. 

If it’s boring or irrelevant, it’s low priority.

Kids do the same thing.

Imagine trying to convince Malik that learning stem and leaf plots is worth his time. 

easy ways to boost student engagement stem and leaf photo

He’s thinking about basketball stats, not math class. So, let’s get creative.

Connect those plots to something he cares about, like tracking his favorite player’s scores.

Kids live in the moment. They want to know why something matters now, not later. 

That’s where you come in – you’ve got to hook them. Turn those math concepts into something tangible and relatable. 

It might take some extra effort, but when students understand how subject matter connects to their lives, they’ll be more likely to tune in.  

4. Make it a Game

Let’s talk about spicing up skill practice!

Sure, worksheets have their place, but let’s be real – games take the cake when it comes to getting students excited about learning.

And isn’t that what we’re all about as teachers?

After all, when students are having fun, they’re more likely to remember what they’ve learned and stay engaged in the lesson.

One of my absolute favorites? Task cards.

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Task cards are like the magic wand of teaching tools – versatile, enchanting, and ready to boost engagement in any lesson.

You can use them in all sorts of games, from classic board games to “Task Card Tic-Tac-Toe” to interactive activities on the whiteboard.

They’re simple to use but oh-so-fun and engaging!

Plus, task cards offer a variety of question types and scenarios, making them perfect for reinforcing skills in different contexts. 

Use task cards along with traditional games to work on so many valuable skills at once!

There are plenty of fun ways to switch things up!

Sometimes, I would scatter task cards all over the room – one on the heater, another on the bean bag chair, maybe one hanging in the doorway, you name it!

Then, students get to go on a “Treasure Hunt” style adventure, finding and solving the cards they come across.

To keep things interesting, I might divide the room into two groups: one tackles the odd-numbered cards while the other takes on the even ones.

Or, I might assign different sets of cards based on eye color – maybe students with brown eyes work on the first ten while others tackle the next set.

And let’s not forget about differentiation!

I often prepared different sets of task cards, tailoring them to the needs of my students.

That way, strugglers get the support they need, while others can dive into more challenging tasks.

It’s all about keeping everyone engaged and motivated!

So, why stick to the same old routine when you can gamify learning and make it an adventure for your students?

Want to learn more about Task Cards?  Click HERE to learn “How to Energize Your Teaching with Task Cards!” 

Hot Seat

Have your students played Hot Seat? it’s so much fun! 

Instead of retyping the rules, I’ll share a link where you can find them. The website explains the rules and strategy really well: HOT SEAT.

easy-ways-to-boost-student-engagement-photo 3


Sometimes, I let students play tic-tac-toe with a partner while working in small groups.
All they need are a pile of task cards and some paper or whiteboards. It’s a great way to reinforce skills while having fun!

Here are my Tic-Tac-Toe rules for task cards:

  1. Start by placing the task cards face down in a pile between the two students.
  2. Student A flips over a task card, and both students work to solve the problem on the card.
  3. If Student A solves it correctly, they can place an X or O on the tic-tac-toe board (you can use a whiteboard for this).
  4. If the two students come up with different answers, they both erase and solve it again until their answers match.

5. Teacher Enthusiasm

Let’s talk about the power of enthusiasm in teaching—it’s absolutely game-changing!

Think back to that teacher from your past who spoke in a monotone voice and made every lesson feel like a snooze-fest. Yikes, right?

Don’t be that teacher! 


When you’re genuinely excited about what you’re teaching, your students can’t help but catch the excitement, and their engagement levels shoot through the roof.

I’ve heard children’s TV shows have a huge number of transitions every few minutes. No surprise, right? 

And kids expect school to be just as entertaining.

But let’s be real — some days, finding that enthusiasm can feel like a challenge. 

We all have those days where we have to put on our game face and give ourselves a pep talk. Teaching is a performance, after all!

I know my fellow elementary teachers can relate. 

Some days, it’s tough and downright exhausting.

But here’s the thing: when you muster up that positive energy and bring excitement and enthusiasm into your classroom, magic happens. 

Your students will love you for it. 

And guess what? You’ll love yourself for it too!

So, what’s in your bag of tricks for keeping students engaged? I’d love to hear your ideas – share them with me!

How about reading How to Energize Your Teaching With Task Cards?