Week 1 How do we keep our lessons engaging? EDET 668

How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

Teachers have their own methods of keeping students engaged in their lessons. In my opinion, I think it depends on their personality, interests, and cultural knowledge. I currently teach in the school I graduated high school from, which is almost 100% Alaska Native. I’ve also taught in urban schools (Anchorage and Fairbanks). In my experience, it is easier to engage those students who share the same cultural background than those who don’t. I engage my students by incorporating our Yup’ik culture and having them make those cultural connections outside of school to my curriculum content.

I agree with what author Burgess explains in his book, Teach Like a Pirate, how a person is not born with creative skills, a person gains those skills through practice and years of experience (location 618). Even if a teacher doesn’t share the same cultural knowledge or background of their students, they can still find ways to engage their class. For instance, Burgess explains incorporating kinesthetic activities (location 1167) for times when your class is lingering on and needs more energy. I like the idea of getting students out of their desks at least once during each lesson. I teach K-1 and if I can get my kids out of their seats during each subject, I know they’ll be more engaged and likely to complete the task.

Last year, my mentor teacher introduced me to “K-5 Energizers,” I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to. It’s a guide for teachers on how to integrate movement and physical activity into your curriculum content. Last year with my fourth grade class, I did something called “Brain Breaks.” I used keepvid.com to download Just Dance for Kids on YouTube and during each passing period I played a song. My class got a chance to get out of out their desks and move around and dance. They loved it so much, I would get requests to which song to play, and when I didn’t make it to school, they would tell me the next day how much they missed their brain breaks.

Another hook Burgess uses in his book is “The Picasso Hook,” (location 1241). I try to incorporate art into all my subject areas, but sometimes it takes up a lot of time. I’ve decided that Friday’s are my art days where I have my students’ exercise their imagination in all subject areas (L.A., math, Yup’ik, spelling…)

To me innovation means a lot of things. When I think of innovation, I think of how I’m keeping up with current trends and events, technology, and my students’ likes and dislikes. Burgess talks about building student rapport (location 341) and how learning what interests them is key to keeping them engaged. If I know what interests my students outside of school, what games they play on their iPads or tablets, I can incorporate those into my daily lessons. If I am fluent and up-to-date with technology as an individual, I can use my knowledge and expertise to teach with technology. I think it’s important because my students can go beyond our classroom, village and state, and learn more and connect with those classes across the country or in other parts of the world.


Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator.

Energizers, Classroom-based Physical Activities. (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015, from http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/Energizers/Texts/K-5-Energizers.pdf

KeepVid: Download YouTube Videos, Facebook, Vimeo, Twitch.Tv, Dailymotion, Youku, Tudou, Metacafe and more! (n.d.). Retrieved September 4, 2015, from http://keepvid.com


7 thoughts on “Week 1 How do we keep our lessons engaging? EDET 668

  1. Genevieve- That is a good point because cultural knowledge does make a difference. If you are interested and know their culture and incorporate that into your lessons I think they would be more engaging for the students because it something they know. What a fun age to work with! Yes, movement with little ones are important. I heard of brain breaks and was going to start trying those in my classroom. It is hard for students to sit for over an hour and stay focused and motivated. This would help them and especially the one students that find it hard to sit that long. I will have to look into keepvid.com. I was looking into gonoodle.com. I need to find more ways to get my students moving. I will look into that. Thanks!


  2. Last year I started to incorporate more movement, brain breaks and rest into my teaching. I use the free website GoNoodle and the kids love it. You should check it out. Thanks for sharing the keepvid.com resource you use. I have never heard of it. I will have to try it. I like how you use culture to engage students. I am not Native but I teach about cultures with passion and respect. Last year I combined Alaska Native Studies and Minecraft. We (my students and I) immersed ourselves in the content. It was very engaging and meaningful. It was something those students will remember for the rest of their lives.


  3. You wrote: “Even if a teacher doesn’t share the same cultural knowledge or background of their students, they can still find ways to engage their class.”

    I agree with this statement. I taught in a rural village for 6 years and found various ways to engage students. I remember one year I had many reluctant writers. They would write but they didn’t appreciate having to revise and edit. I used creating digital copies of their writing as an incentive, if they went through the writing process. Once students finished revising and published a writing assignment, I would work with them to create a digital format of it with pictures and their voice reading, then they took it home on a DVD to share with their family.


  4. “Brain Breaks” is an excellent idea! I feel this can be a stretch for someone like myself, but with time I would be okay with it. I’m sure it is the same with your students. It must be such a delight to ones heart to watch the students be carefree. Thanks for sharing.


  5. That is so wonderful that you incorporate movement into your day! Just dance, the kids love that. I have talked with other classroom teachers who do that as well, but through differing activities, the dance is a fun idea. They call these “brain energizers” since they are energizing the brain to prepare to learn the next thing. It’s like a palete cleanser, like sorbet. Just having the kids get up and do jumping jacks or mingle around the room to music can get their blood flow going, I think that is what the K-5 energizers you were talking about may be intended to do. Even as adults we have a tough time sitting in a chair all day, yet we expect our students to do this. Great job in energizing your students in a fun way that they are familiar with.


  6. Chris Bryner

    Fun to read about your teaching experience, in a classroom and community different then mine. Reading your description of some of the ways you’ve engaged students, like brain breaks and movement, led me to ask this question: Are these examples of engaging lessons, or breaks from lessons?


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