From the pink sand beaches to the green rolling hills and spotted islands, from the pastel homes to the stunning blue waters filling the coves, this is Bermuda. Isn’t she beautiful?
“Are any of you in Bermuda? Come back to me. Engage your minds! No cognitive vacations!” These are comments students hear in my classroom as I watch them, making sure their minds are engaged. It’s normal for students’ minds to wander when they’re bored, tired, distracted, worried, or a task is hard. My mind wanders, too. So does yours. Have you ever been reading a book and your eyes fall on all the words…you turn the page…and then you realize, “I have no idea what I just read!” Has it happened to you while driving where you can’t remember the last five miles? Whelp! I daydream about the pink sand and rocky shores on my favorite beach in Bermuda. I call this unplugged brain a “cognitive vacation.” The brain says, “See ya! I’m headed somewhere a little more interesting.”
Teacher Observations or Student Observations?
As a teacher of teachers, I observe instructors’ lessons and watch the students as much as I watch the teacher. What am I looking for? Learner engagement! When learners are engaged, it means their brains are thinking as they are watching, listening, or doing. It’s an active process! And it produces excellent learning. Unfortunately, students prefer to be passive “attenders” instead of active learners. It’s hard to engage sometimes. At Lemons-Aid, keeping learners engaged is essential. When learners are engaged, they can do hard and incredible things!
So, what does engaged learning look like?
It’s when kids are active in the learning experience. They’re asking questions, participating in discussions, and completing assignments with intentional effort, even when it’s hard. They’re not just going through the motions – they’re invested in what they’re learning, even if the subject matter isn’t their favorite.
The Lemons-Aid Way to Learner Engagement:
- First, we teach our students what active engagement is. They learn to recognize when their brains take a cognitive vacation and then have the ability to shake off that beachy sand and return to whatever they’re doing in the classroom. Sure, some learning tasks are tough and, honestly, not enjoyable. It’s hard to struggle with a math concept, and it doesn’t feel great when confused. We teach kids that they can do hard things if they embrace the struggle and power through it. There is a great reward when they can do this. All students can learn and can achieve!
- At Lemons-Aid, we work hard and are intentional in keeping learners engaged. One way we do this is through gamification. We use games and interactive activities to make learning more fun and to keep them engaged. Gamification is much more than rewards for accomplishing a task. Lemons-Aid is developing authentic gamification for our courses that keep our learners coming back. We have just scratched the surface.
- We also focus on real-world learning applications so kids can see how their learning is relevant to their lives. We accomplish this in a few different ways. For example, on the Lemons-Aid “road map” of future platform development, we are planning a student-led marketplace where students can create and sell products as business professionals. The real-world application of their learning is motivating and rewarding.
- Perhaps most important is teaching them the biblical application of what they’re learning. All learning is the study of God and His world, and all learning is about Him. It’s exciting to know God better from our studies.
- Practically speaking, we have kids keep their cameras on during online classes. This helps them feel more connected to their teachers and peers, making the learning experience more interactive. We have other class management superpowers we use to keep them focused as well.
- Finally, we make sure that our lesson development is engaging for learners. We use a variety of interactive lessons and multimedia, like videos and infographics, and we encourage collaboration between students. We also provide timely feedback on assignments and assessments so kids can see their progress and stay motivated.
At Lemons-Aid Learning, we commit to keeping kids engaged in their learning. We know that when students are active learners, they can achieve amazing things!