This blog post will offer our top 10 attention ideas for your non-attentive classroom. We hope our tips below will be useful to keep your students from not paying attention in class.
1. Use Video
We have found that using video to help teach our lessons has helped keep students focused on what we are teaching. We are required to teach our students reading skills through shared reading. The manual is boring to say the least. So what we have done is take the topic of the manual, and found videos on youtube that could help to teach the skill. Then we infuse the video into our lesson.
2 Use different voices
If you are doing a read aloud from a fiction book, make voices for the characters in the story. Students love it when there is variety and surprise as you read. Expression is huge to keeping students attentive during read alouds!
3 Get them moving
No one likes to sit still for long periods of time. Look at yourself as a teacher. How long do you sit? Now, picture yourself sitting in a desk like your students. The key is to get them up and move. We have a 75 minute math block. If we had our students sit for that period of time, they would lose focus quickly. Just some simple jumping jacks, a quick game of Simon Says, or just jogging in place can help.
To make sure that every student is participating, this is a great strategy to use. The teacher asks a question and the students have some time to think, then they pair with their partner, and share their thoughts. It is easy to walk around the classroom and see and hear the engagement of the students. If you don’t use this strategy, you should. If you do use it, use it more!
Who doesn’t love music? At the beginning of the year, we have students write down their favorite songs/musicians. Then we screen the lyrics at home. If they are appropriate, we include them on a playlist that we use in school. The students love to hear their choices!
6 Class Chants
Instead of just saying “Quiet” or “Time to listen,” as a class we develop class chants. For example, if we said “Mine” to our class, they would respond with “Craft.” If I did an echo clap, they would repeat it. It is amazing to see how much quicker they are ready to listen when they take ownership in the creation of these chants.
7 Assign Class Jobs
All students want to feel important. A great way to accomplish this is to have class jobs in your room. Students love to help out, and feel special when it is their week to do a job. Some class jobs we have are: Pledge Leader, Line Leader, Paper Passer, Class Librarian, Pencil Sharpener, and Teacher Helper. They can’t wait to have a turn at the class jobs!
8 Throw a Ball
Yes, you heard us right. Thow a ball! No, we are not saying a baseball. Koosh balls, small kickballs, anything soft will do. Watch the surprise of your students when you throw them a ball when their hand is up to answer a question. The next question you answer, we would guarantee that over 2/3 of your class would have their hands up. Students think it is fun to toss a ball in class. They probably have never been able to do this before!
9 Mix up desk arrangements
We hope you are not the teacher that still has your students’ desks in rows. This seating arrangement really takes away from the classroom interaction that you want from your students. We switch up our seating arrangements throughout the year. We may have them with: partners, a group of 4,5, or 6, or even in shapes in the classroom. One year I had an exceptional class and we switched our desk arrangement to match with the season. We made a pumpkin shape in October, a heart in February, and a flower in April. Students love change, so make it a part of at least a monthly plan to change desk arrangements.
If you want the attention of your students, you must listen to them. When a child comes up to talk to you in the morning, after recess, or at the end of the day make sure to give them time. If you show you don’t care about them, they won’t care about you when you are teaching. Establishing this line of communication is crucial to them respecting you in the classroom.
We would love to hear your ideas too!