Sunday, February 3, 2013

Do you entertain or engage your young readers?

When you lead a child’s education, do you entertain or engage that child? Entertainment is a passive form of education. You might use funny voices, walk around the room, or show a fancy PowerPoint program. Throughout that “performance,” the children passively watch and sometimes listen to the lesson.

Entelechy Education, LLC believes that actively engaging children in their education develops valuable problem-solving skills and creativity. In engagement, children become active participants in their education. In entertainment, they sit back and observe other people’s (usually parents or teachers) ability to solve problems and be creative.

Here are some tips for engaging children in their education using three traditionally passive, yet somewhat entertaining methods:


· Instead of creating simple programs that use outline-style sentences in each slide, add motion paths, sounds, and emphasis animation.

· Intersperse those slides with interactive slides where students need to answer questions, find a treasure (perhaps hidden in the room), or interact with each other in a group experience.

· Ask different students to use a pointer to show sections of the program to their friends. (Peers are powerful instructors!)


· In prekindergarten and lower elementary grades, teachers and parents generally read the book to the children because they are too young to read. While this certainly develops language skills, passively sitting and listening to the story does not engage the child in the story. Stop periodically to discuss the story, ask anticipatory questions, or help the child relate the story to his or her life.

· In higher elementary grades, where book reports become important, consider creative ways for the students to present their summaries. Instead of standing in front of the room, describing the plot, characters, theme, and setting, ask your students to develop a unique method of presentation:
- A game based on the story that they can play in their groups
- A reader’s theater where everyone in the room has a part in the play that summarizes the story
- A song based on the story where the rest of the class sings the refrain
In other words, encourage involvement with the entire class and use all those “intelligences!”

Blackboard or whiteboard
If you are fortunate enough to have a Smartboard, skip this section because you should be using all the engaging features that product offers. However, if you are still using a whiteboard with the erasable markers or (gasp!) a blackboard that is actually green, then these tips are for you.

· During math, instead of simply writing an equation on the board (3 + 2 = 5), ask five students to come up and demonstrate the equation under the written numbers.

· Are you still giving your students notes to copy from the board? (Really?) If you can’t seem to get out of that habit, then at least leave out a word from each sentence and ask students to develop a list of possible words that will complete the sentence. Go over the correct answer, and send the kids home with their study guide.

· Experiments aren’t just for science class. In Language arts, write the hypothesis on the board (more students prefer similes to metaphors, for example) and then ask your students to develop a method for testing this hypothesis.

By now, you should get the idea that actively engaging students in their education is much preferable to entertaining them throughout the day. It’s also less work for you because the kids do all the work!

Entelechy Education, LLC presents the EnteleKey™ Learning Guides to help engage your students in the STEM, character education, and literacy topics contained in each EnteleTrons™ book.

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