Saturday, August 3, 2013

Six Strategies ANY Teacher Can Use to Increase Student Engagement in History Classes

1. Engage Students the Minute They Walk In!
One of the best strategies to get students on task immediately is to have a daily warm up activity that activates prior knowledge and connects to that day's lesson. Here are 120 amazing daily warm up activities for US History that you can use every day of the school year!

For your World History classes, here is a PowerPoint download of 150 Warm Up Activities that you can use all year long!

2. Make Your Presentations Come Alive With Movement & 3D!
Now matter how engaging your PowerPoints are, at some point they are still just pictures and text. What will really WOW your students and knock them off their seats is when the pictures come alive - blinking, smiling, looking around the room like the "magic portraits" in Harry Potter.

I have created a series of these for World and US History that will truly amaze your students. There are amazing, complete lessons on The French Revolution with 24 slides and 9 Magic Portraits, a great Founding Fathers of America PowerPoint with 7 Magic Portraits, a 9-slide Philosophers of the Enlightenment "Magic Portrait" Lesson, and many more!

Make your Presentations in 3D! Everyone knows that the biggest summer blockbusters now are all in IMAX or 3D, so why not engage your students with the same strategies? I have a whole category of 3D lessons that can be downloaded by clicking here!

Then you can use simple anaglyph 3D pictures to create visually stunning, 3D lessons that will come alive in your classroom! You can download this fantastic 3D lesson on the Age of Imperialism, features beautiful slides like these:

Or for your US History classes, here is a similarly engaging 3D lesson on the Transcontinental Railroad! Over 22 slides, it tells the amazing story of the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad from the Homestead Act through the hammering of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, Utah. The material is based on state and common core standards of US History.

4. Make Your Worksheets Fun!
Reviewing vocabulary and reinforcing concepts is something that is important for students, but can obviously become monotonous. I was thinking about ways to make my review worksheets more engaging for students when I came across a "Snoop Dogg Translator". I ran my CLOZE reading guides through the translator, than added my own flourishes to create these hilarious review guides that students go crazy for!


For US History, you can download a Snoop Review Bundle that includes all 4 Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion) review guides on early America from the colonies through the Civil War. Each is also available as an individual download as well.

For World History, this Snoop Dogg review covers the World at 1500, Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Discovery, and Absolute Monarchs all in one!

5. Add The Thrill of Competition to your Assessments!
The Vocabulary Football League (VFL) has helped my students increase their vocabulary skills and performance on our state tests as much if not more than anything else. My students actually look forward to these quizzes!

After being placed on teams, each week they take a simple 10-question vocabulary quiz based on words we have covered that week. Add up the team's score and that's it!

I keep standings on the board and I'm telling you, the kids love it! I have students encouraging each other to study! When it's coming from them and not the teacher, you know it's working!

6. Have Students Act It Out & Perform!
This World History lesson on Imperialism has students analyzing one of 8 cartoons from the Age of Imperialism and creating short scenes to act out for the class. In order to act out the scenes, students must think critically about the information presented and they almost always create memorable scenes that will help the rest of your students remember the concepts.

I have my US History students act out this short scene from a contemporary play about the settlement of Virginia colony. In the scene, a captain tells them all sorts of outlandish lies to entice two men to move to Virginia. It is a fantastic way to introduce students to reasons why people would come to the New World.

ALL of these amazing resources can be used to bring your classroom alive! Hope you all have a wonderful school year!

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