Increase Student Participation

This is a process called active learning where classroom participation is encouraged and all students are motivated to be a part of this learning process. All teachers and parents do want their kids to be more involved in the active learning scenario because not only is it more interactive, it also helps the student attain other benefits like overcoming shyness, introvert issues, getting friendlier with classmates, etc. But often, there are a particular group of students who, in spite of being intelligent, tend to shy away from this interaction process. It is the duty of the teacher and the responsibility of the parents to nurture more involved students and fewer apathetic ones. All that it requires is a little extra planning.

But first, you must try and understand the common reasons for a student not taking active part in the class discussions and interactive sessions. Knowing the core problem can not only help in overcoming the issue, but also helps to spruce up the lesson session and make it more interesting from the perspective of a student-

Repetitive Content

One of the major problems that any student faces in class is the content getting repetitive. Here the only viable issue is that the student is not really sure about how to answer the same question in a different way. Sometimes, it is vital to keep the content repetitive so that the students are able to learn faster. In some cases, if the problem is really difficult, having multiple sessions of the same makes it easier for the student to understand this problem.

Assess their prior knowledge

Is the student aware that you are only testing them for these aspects and thus just trying to avoid the conversation? Or is it because that they are not really remembering the correct answer and thus shying away from this conversation.

Being introverts

There are cases when a student may know of the right answers and also not have difficulty in grasping the problem, but they are simply being quite or not responding because they are shy and prefer not to take part in such active sessions.

The responsibility here for the teacher is to ensure that all students are taking active part in such discussions. For doing so, there are various methods that you can implement here-

Get In Touch With Parents

For students who are extremely shy or tend to avoid answering such questions in class, parents can be contacted regarding the same. This holds true for students who are very young and would require help from home to get over the issue of shyness and public speaking. There are students who also have a fear of public speaking and talking in a larger group. Getting in touch with parents is relevant to help them understand and become aware of the problem that their child is suffering from. Having parents actively involved in the process is also suggested to help in overcoming this problem. With gradual persistence and counseling and other therapy methods if needed, such issues could be easily won over. Mock quizzes or sessions can be organized here too.

Asking Them Questions They Have Answers To

For weaker students, this is a theory that really works well when it comes to execution. If a student is aware of the prior answer to a particular question, it becomes easier for the student to respond because they are already aware of the same. So if you have a student answering history or science questions because they have relevant knowledge, but remaining quite during math answers – you can not only judge the areas they have complications with but also discover their core issues.

Grouping The Class

This is a popular activity that adds some excitement to the class and it also means that the students get a little competitive. A bit of perspective here means that students are willing to take more participation here. For instance, a teacher can divide the class into 3-4 groups and then see who wins a particular quiz or have interactive sessions. It is just something temporary but doing so will help the teacher get an idea about the different students. In particular, introverts respond much better to such situations as compared to answering in larger groups. In this method, teachers can judge and encourage student participation on the basis of speed, active learning, responsiveness, etc. If a particular group fares well during one such session, they can be rewarded or given extra credit for the next activity. He/ she can then take time to move between the other groups and help them review. The option of changing groups is suggested as needed. Also, make sure that each group has a mixed bunch of students – so all geeks in one group is a no-no.

Let Students Teach Each Other

There is no better learning process than helping students learn more from each other. In this aspect, remember that you have to divide the groups on the basis of students who are brilliant and those who are weak. So here, it is the more geeky kids who are helping out the ones who are not very good at a particular subject or ace in the same. Here teachers can help them to do interesting activities. Options for different kinds of tests can be given along with reviews, content accuracy, creation of unique content and other similar modes. The idea is to motivate the students to do better. And so if you feel that the content is now getting simpler, add some difficulty to it so that the students not only help each other but also grow out of the fear of asking. Sometimes, complicated problems encourage more active participation in the classroom.

Allow Anonymous Questions

Often there is a fear at the back of a students mind that they will be mocked or made fun of for asking silly questions. Now for the teacher, there can really never be anything silly – but for a student there is this uncertainty in the head. So you can give out questionnaires in the class that are relevant to the questions and you can give the students the option to submit or ask any question of their choice. Also, mention that they don’t have to really provide names or details here and keep the questions as anonymous. Doing so will probably get you some more creative questions that a student would often be embarrassed to ask. In this reference, you should discuss the answer of the question in class and make comments on how sensible it is. When doing so, you will be inherently encouraging the student to ask or pop up more relevant questions in the future instead of shying away or feeling embarrassed.

Permitting Students To Discuss

Often, teachers don’t want students interacting or talking during the class sessions. And this is something that is quite fair considering that students would love passing notes or discuss irrelevant issues. Again, like the above group discussion, you should let the students know that they are being assessed on the basis of their interactive skills and homework. Letting them discuss about issues like these would help to learn the content and work together. You can assign them into partners or even encourage them to make changes if their partner’s answer looks right. On checking the answers, you can then find that students to improve and apply the same perspective into class discussions and issues.

Puzzles and Jigsaws

The format you choose here depends on the age group of the class. It is not really the proper game puzzles or scary movies. Again, it is here that the teaching process is applied in an innovative manner to encourage the children to be a part of the group. If you’re introducing new, difficult content, you can try dividing the class into groups and ask each group to master only one portion of it at a time. In particular, this is applicable for stuff like history or science where segregation is easier. You can ask each of these groups to focus on one part of the act or time of history. Then from there, work the entire act into a series or jigsaw so that not only are the students more aware of the facts they are dealing with but are actively taking part here. Also, this is very much applicable for issues where there are some very problematic or longer issues to be addressed. Hence, this process might take a little more time than others, but it sure gives you a detailed and more intrinsic perspective into the matter.

Keeping things small or bite-sized

There is something known as an overdose of information. In such cases, there is so much information being provided that the student is not really able to soak in so much at one go. So when the interactive session begins on the same, he/ she tends to be lost and confused about what all just happened out there. In such cases, it makes sense to keep the lecture short, have an interactive session and then move on. Doing so helps the student to register more information in a shorter span of time. Plus, when the discussion is held, all of this information is just fresh in the mind of the student and they are able to decode it better. And on the whole, as a teacher you benefit by getting more number of responses than usual.

Research shows the average student’s attention span is as long as his/ her age. So you can already guess that even high school kids can only handle about 15 minutes. So putting this practically, all of the information to convey would mean you do a little bit of re-arranging of your lesson plans. Sticking or keeping a lecture to not more than 10-15 minutes could be a viable option here. Again, briefing again post the session means that the same information is being retained in a much better way.

Keep Them Busy

Often, students don’t interact much in class because they feel that they are not able to connect with the teacher. It is often that the student may feel the need to do something else that helps them sink in this formation. So here you can work on something as simple as providing them a note or brief of the things that you will be talking about. Worksheets or other similar interactive sheets work very well with younger kids, why not apply the same in a more refined way to the students of the older classes. A fun diagram of what you are talking about or describing what you said in one paragraph are some easy ways of making that connection.

Give them preparation time

When you are about to start a lecture or give a student a brief about something, then give them a little time to grasp in what you are talking about. It could be questions on true and false or just a little group chat before commencing the lesson. This way, students interest in intrigued prior to the lesson and they would be more than willing to be a part of the question and answer series. Also, this becomes something that the students are able to link with and working on their accuracy and guesses, you have them participating on a more regular basis.

Keep them busy when you are busy

So you have some different kind of assignment to do for the school and you need to keep the kids busy. Here, you can try on focusing on helping the kids stay busy while you are just an observer. Let them debate amongst themselves or work on questions and answers to on their own. A fun and interactive session like this will give you a perspective of what they think about or expect from their teachers.

Give a voice with a choice

Never make a student uncomfortable or let them feel that they are being pointed out as the odd one out. It is all about encouraging them to take part in the group activities without being overwhelmed. So if you are asking a question that a student is not able to answer, why not just shoot or ask another question. You can also work out something that will help show their inherent abilities. If it is a science or math question, ask them to draw a diagram or do it on the board instead of just doing it mentally. In this way, the student has a fair chance of working towards the solution. On the other hand, you can also ask the class group to help him or her out.

Here are some of the other things that you can do-
Students are able to see value in course material, learning outcomes, and activities that are actually related to their own lives.
  1. The course objectives or learning outcomes should be in sync with the students' interests and goals (academic, career, and social).
  2. Learning activities provide opportunities for better learning outcomes.
  3. Assessments should be fair and based on bringing out inherent potential of the student.
  4. Give them choices to pique their interest
  5. Students experience the learning environment as supportive, success in course activities and assignments.
  6. If you discuss what you expect from them and what is expected of them, it will help you in coming closer to what they expect out of you also.
  7. Your focus should be on providing a clear course objective and laying emphasis on outcomes and reinforcing what students will gain from attaining them.
  8. Break the ice wherever possible. For someone who is just starting anew, this is one of the best modes to connect with the kid. This way you can build rapport with students, learn their names, and learn more on the background knowledge they have.
On the whole, the teacher here should make an attempt to successfully complete the required syllabus with emphasis on aligning the course activities to students’ goals. If you want the students to actively participate in the class activities, you have to not only give them regular feedback on their progress but let them know what is expected of them too. 

Remember that with larger classes, this is a problem that many teachers have to face and address. As mentioned above, breaking them into smaller groups or trying to motivate students to participate in course activities require a bit more creativity from your side too. With a little planning and help from school authorities, this can be done. 

On the fresher perspective, some parents too can be involved in helping making questionnaires or creating interactive sessions. For instance, a fun interactive session with the parents or quiz with students vs. parents or teachers would be an exciting way to start off. With more participation for the students, not only do lessons improve, but as a teacher you are able to get more satisfaction of fulfilling your purpose of knowledge-share.
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