Maintaining Student Engagement in the Spring

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The birds are chirping as I type, the grass is turning green, the sunsets are even more spectacular than usual - spring is here! It’s a wonderful time of the year but maintaining students’ attention can be extra challenging for teachers when competing with sunny blue skies, complete with temperatures in the low 70s. We have a few ideas to help you celebrate springtime with students at all grade levels, without sacrificing learning.

Freshen Up Your Schedule

It’s important to maintain schedules and routines but try freshening them up by moving your lessons outside whenever feasible. For example, have students engage their senses and practice mindfulness by journaling about what they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste while sitting under a tree. Or allow nature to inspire poetry or other forms of creative writing. During independent reading time, lead students outside with their paperbacks and find a shady place to read. Create Venn diagrams (or other graphic organizers) with sidewalk chalk to compare/contrast topics in any content area.

To go further in depth on how to incorporate the great outdoors into your curriculum, check out our online course: No Child Left Inside: Examining Rationale and Methods to Use the Outdoors as a Classroom.
 

Meteorologists in the Classroom

Rain, sleet, sunshine, thunderstorms, snow – spring is an eventful weather season! Track and log the temperatures, humidity levels, wind speeds, precipitation, etc. daily. Compare the season’s weather to the predictions made in the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Take it a step further (and have your students brush up on their geography) by examining the national weather radar on The Weather Channel. Find out which regions are being impacted by severe weather, including tornados, hail, mudslides, and flash flooding. Finally, watch and listen as Bill Nye (the “Science Guy”) explains what happens with the earth and the sun during springtime (as well as the other seasons) in this engaging 5-minute video.

Virtual Fieldtrips

Spring is a beautiful time to travel, but many of us simply can’t get away. Plan B: Invite your students to explore and learn more about places they’re interested in by going on virtual fieldtrips. For example, Discovery Education offers free, standards-aligned virtual field trips and hands-on learning activities in all content areas. The Johnson Space Center, a dairy farm, and the NBA headquarters are just a few of the fascinating places waiting for you and your students to visit.

To learn more about taking your students virtually anywhere (no permission slips required), register for our online course: How to Create a Virtual Fieldtrip.

Experiment with Gardening

Nutrition, science, art, poetry, history – the roots of plants growing in gardens reach every content area. Kids Gardening offers free lesson plans and other gardening activities for grades K-12, from studying state flowers to creating a school garden business. I recommend starting with the Petal Attraction lesson plan. Students learn about different types of flowers and pollinators. Then students are challenged to design a flower that will attract specific pollinators (bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, moths) of their choice. And, when you and your students are ready, level up to the Planning a Pollinator Garden lesson plan. Or simply get your students thinking about gardening with this guided writing activity - My Magical Garden where the possibilities during harvest time are endless!

Spring is a wonderful season, indeed. Be sure to acknowledge that it’s sometimes challenging to focus this time of the year but encourage students to make a strong finish. Share excitement about all that’s left to learn before the final bell rings before summer break.

Happy springtime to you and your students!


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Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin.