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C.M. Corner: Engaging Students in Movies and Worksheets

“Can we have class outside today?”  “Are you going to the game tonight?” “Summer can’t come fast enough!”  As the school year comes to a close, keeping students engaged becomes more and more difficult, even more so when given a worksheet or needing to watch a movie.  However, student engagement plays a very large roll in overall classroom management.  To address this particular issue, in this installment of the C.M. Corner is addressed from suggestions offered our substitutes! 

 

Engaging students in a movie can be a very difficult job, especially if it is older or purely an educational film.  Even if it is something with explosions, superpowers and sunsets, students may be more interested in the latest gossip.  One sub recommends creating an “assignment” and has each student turn in a sheet of paper with 5 things they had learned while watching the movie and lets them know that it’s being turned into the teacher.  Another couple subs will utilize proximity, but instead of standing or walking around the room, they will sit at various desks in the class to help keep students more focused and less distracted.  A third option that has been suggested, is to write some general questions on the board, “how does this movie apply to what you’re learning in class”, “How does that information apply to us today?,” etc.  Then, stop the movie 5-10 minutes before class is over and have the students discuss the questions in pairs and share their ideas with the class or write them down for the teacher. 

Another area that may prove an issue is busywork.  Worksheets and miscellaneous projects often times becomes an opportunity for students to quickly lose focus, talk and be generally unproductive.  Some substitutes have moved to incorporate planned breaks to help students refocus their energy.  Having them sit for a long period of time can become very taxing and becomes even harder when everybody just wants to be outside.  Depending on the age of the students, suggestions have included light exercise, free time, school/lesson trivia or a quick ice breaker game.  One person suggested having the students walk around the room in pairs for 3-5 minutes and talk about the topic.  Not only does that provide a “break” from the actual activity, but they are using their physical energy and are able to talk to each other in a more appropriate context. 

 

What do you do to keep students engaged?  Are there specific activities or games that you use?  If you have any tips or tricks, we would love to hear it at training@teachersoncall.com.