Have you ever struggled with how to engage your reluctant learners in the classroom? They could be those kids who avoid reading unless put on the spot, the children who sit and stare at an empty page during writing time, or maybe even the ones who seem to be totally lost or uninterested during math.
With so many different personalities and learning styles in your classroom, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to try and meet all their needs, but there are some things that you can do that can help.
Differentiation Is Key
Early on in my teaching I realized that whole group teaching was only meeting the needs of some of my students. Not every child is at the same place in their learning at the same time. If we are following a scripted plan of instruction where everyone gets the same lesson at the same time with the same expectations for performance, there will definitely be some students that are lost and unable to succeed while others will be bored because they are already able to do the task at hand.
Differentiation is key for meeting the needs of more of your students, but it isn't the only thing necessary. I have found that it is important to also have a variety of ways for children to learn as people learn differently. Some learn through hearing, some by seeing, and others by touching and interacting physically with things. By creating a variety of means for learning concepts and skills, children are more likely to be engaged and consequently more likely to actually understand the concepts or skills presented.
Use Projects And Hands On Activities
If you have been following me at all, you will already know that I am a believer in using projects and manipulatives in my teaching. I also like to have multiple ways for kids to demonstrate their learning. This helps them to develop confidence as they can show what they know in a way that works for them. This doesn't mean that they never do reading and writing activities that are more traditional, just that this is not the only way to measure their ability or understanding.
Coming up with the ideas for the various subjects is often dictated by the students in the class and the class dynamics. If you have a wide range of abilities in the class, differentiation is necessary. Small group activities and some individualization will be key. If you have a very active class, management will be crucial as part of your instruction in order to have a productive learning environment. Hands on activities or movement activities will help children move from the concrete to the abstract as they are learning new concepts or skills.
Games Engage And Increase Learning
Using games for teaching has been extremely successful for my students throughout the years. They think they are playing games, but they are actually practising valuable skills that transfer into other areas. I still remember a few times after doing some math games and activities the kids asked me when we were going to start math. They didn't realize that they had been doing math the whole time because they were having fun with the activities. They kept expecting that math would be worksheets and drills.
I will elaborate more on this in another post.
Each group of students will require different means of motivation to get them engaged, but being open to trying new things and incorporating a mix of hands on, interactive, and differentiated materials and activities into your teaching will help to capture and encourage your reluctant learners to take chances and develop the confidence needed to keep trying. Sometimes it can be as simple as adding colored pens when doing writing activities or adding some moving around to an activity.
I hope these ideas help with your reluctant students. I will share more specific ideas and suggestions for different subjects in future posts. In the meantime, I would love to hear about some of the ways you help reluctant learners in your classroom. Feel free to share in the comments.
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About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.