3 Little Tricks to Get Your Students Paying Attention in Class

students paying attention in class
Try these 3 tricks to get students paying attention in class.

How to get your students paying attention in class is the big question that teachers are asking more and more. Teachers are struggling with disengaged children as well as dealing with disruptive behavior.

They don’t have enough time to teach everything they are expected to teach in a day’s time, and feel like they don’t have any time for themselves. We all know the importance of paying attention in class, so what’s the answer?

3 Morning Meeting Activities That Change Everything

For me students paying attention in class was about doing intentional morning meeting activities and involving my students in active learning and concept based instruction.  It was giving them connection opportunities where they were engaged in learning and that helped them to apply their knowledge.

1. Turn and Talk, The Perfect Engagement Tool

One of the hands-down easiest ways to get students paying attention in class is with turn and talk. Raise your hand if you are a fan of asking a whole class question and calling on hands? Yes, it is a good first step, now you can take it even further. Here’s why:

  1. Your shy students will be very hesitant to raise their hands, even if they have the right answer. You will be very unlikely to hear from them
  2. You will spend a LOT of time calling on your students, hearing tangents, or navigating friends who like to tell very long stories

Sound familiar? Instead, utilize Turn and Talk or Pair and Share. As you’re delivering your lesson (using your core vocabulary ), pause and ask your students to discuss. Give them 2-3 minutes to chat.

When you get really good at this, you can walk around, participate in conversations, get an even clearer picture of which of your students really understand the material.

Your students love it because everyone gets to talk and feel heard. Every student is engaged simultaneously instead of a few at a time while others sit and listen.

Once all your students have had a chance to chat, you can always use extra time to call on individuals if you’d like.

turn and talk
Turn and talk is a great way to get students paying attention in class.

2. Add a Sing Along Song for Instant Enthusiasm

A study done by the Department of Music at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, showed that music has a more successful impact on the brain because of the numerous areas of the brain that are targeted.  Children’s motor, auditory, and limbic systems become engaged when they listen to music.

This opens them up to a more meaningful learning experience and gets students paying attention in class. This article from the DANA foundation gives great insight regarding all the arts and how they inform cognitive development.

This article from Edutopia says as educators, we want to appropriately challenge each student—encouraging higher-order thinking while meeting state standards. Music is one tool to engage each student and provide a pathway for deeper understanding. Songs are essentially poems, and have a lot of meaning packed into few words.

I also like to use songs that connect with my concept based instruction. For example, when I introduce a theme like scientific method we sing a song about it.

kids singing
A sing along song also gets students paying attention in class.

3. Movement Activities for Morning Meeting Are Always a WIN!

I also introduce relevant vocabulary during my activities for morning meeting that goes with our theme.  When I really want to solidify student understanding of new or previous vocabulary, I like to pantomime the words that I’m saying. This gives students a little energy boost and a kinetic connection to the material.

At this point, you might be thinking that there just isn’t enough time for all this  direct instruction of vocabulary, singing songs and game playing. (You have content to teach!)

scientific method vocabulary
Students pay attention when we are playing vocabulary games.

4. BONUS, How Concept Based Instruction Brings it All Together

You may be asking, “What is concept based instruction?” It is when a large percentage of your classroom curriculum is connected by a certain theme or deeper concept.

Your vocabulary, reading, and writing are centered around your theme, and when your theme is one of your science or social studies concepts, you get magic! I dabbled in this a bit in my earlier teaching. We had cute themes like teddy bears and the circus,  but it was when my themes and vocabulary words came from our content area units that I saw a real difference.

That is the beauty of content-based instruction with meaningful vocabulary in your morning meeting and integrating it throughout the day, especially when all the words are related and kids can make great connections. You are actually teaching content as students learn the words.

Why Do Active Learning Activities Work?

For one, young attention spans are itty bitty. These active learning activities shake things up to keep engaging early learners.

For two, much of what they are learning is BRAND NEW to them so they become disconnected easily without something relevant to connect them to the material.

Their little brains are processing so much at one time that basics like students focusing in class and control go out the window. So, we’ve compiled these three activities and more as part of the Active Learning and Self-Learning strategies within our Cultivated Classroom program. We have 4 student learning strategies within our framework that guarantee your students will be laser-focused and have a lifelong passion for learning!

Active Learning Resources You Can Depend On

But, unlike many programs of its kind, The Cultivated Classroom doesn’t just give you strategies, rinse-and-repeat processes, templates, and a supportive community, we are giving you actual downloadable active learning resources! Bi-monthly Zoom trainings  will provide many tips and ideas that will enhance your classroom teaching and save you valuable time.

You get a select number of resources each month that you get to choose from our 500 resource library.

Choose games, emergent readers, digital activities, printable activities, NO PREP worksheets, songs and everything in between. You can tell us what you want or give us a standard you need help with and we’ll shop for you!

Here is just a small sampling of what we have to offer. There is so much more!

Here’s the catch: we’re only going to offer this to the first 25 people who sign up. Why? Because we want to optimize our time and focus to give you the BEST experience possible.

So, to be first in line when the doors open, plus learn some extra quick-wins and tips, sign up for our VIP list now!

joining a membership for teachers
We would love for you to join us help you help your students!

>>>>>CLICK HERE to save yourself HOURS of planning with successful, classroom-tested resources and strategies!


Can’t wait to start collaborating!

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