Re-engaging Students: The New School Year Challenge

Even in the most “normal” of school years, re-engaging students after summer break takes some extra time and effort. And for the 2021-22 school year, “normal” is new and different. Teachers and students alike across the PreK-12 spectrum may need to address unfinished learning after a year of hybrid- or fully remote instruction. Classroom routines need to be re-established and students who have adapted to independent, unregimented learning may now need to adapt to a more structured school environment.

There’s no single secret sauce for improving student engagement, but there are tactics and techniques that can help, and technology can play a pivotal role. Here are some starter ideas.

  1. Mark Up Content As You Present: Turn static images or worksheets into interactive teaching moments with the addition of a digital pen tablet or pen display. As you introduce a concept, project, experiment or math process, you can annotate, draw, and highlight as you teach. It’s easier and more natural to write with a digital pen than to try to do so with a computer mouse or trackpad. Best of all, when students interact with this kind of dynamic content, they maintain their attention and focus on the information you’re presenting.
  2. Encourage & Model Visual Note-Taking & Brainstorming: There is a strong, positive, cognitive connection between students hearing and seeing new materials and then transcribing this information into their own notes. Additionally, when teachers model visual thinking techniques like mind-mapping, creating graphic organizers, and using simple sketches as part of making notes, students learn to integrate these approaches when trying to understand new concepts or new processes.
  3. Try a Quick Draw: Language arts, science and history teachers often ask students to do a “quick write” after reading a passage or studying a concept. This kind of reflection reinforces learning. But writing isn’t the only way to encourage reflection. Try a quick draw instead. Ask students to draw a picture or a graphic representation about what they’ve read or a problem they’ve solved. It’s a visual way for students to explain their thinking and it’s often more engaging and memorable that simply writing.
  4. Use Digital Collaboration Tools: Apps like Jamboard, Kami, and Collaboard can ignite rapid, real-time collaboration, so students can participate as teachers present, explain, and demonstrate. It’s a digital way to keep students participating, without raising hands, waiting their turn to talk, or interrupting instruction. And for teachers, it’s an immediate way to assess students’ comprehension, understanding and engagement, as lessons and lectures progress.
  5. Try A Simple Flip or Two: Whether you’ve embraced flipped learning or are just getting started and want to try a few simple techniques, you can create simple videos for students to view outside their regular class times. These can be reviews of foundational concepts, introductions to new concepts and projects, or previews of upcoming projects, assessments and in-class activities. You can make these videos easily with apps like PearDeck and Explain Everything and then post them to your class website or learning management system, so students can watch anywhere or anytime. Digital pen tablets and displays make it easy to annotate and enhance these video lessons so students can see and hear you as they watch and participate. It’s a great way to prep for a new unit or lesson and give students time to review concepts they may have missed in the prior school year.

Use Wacom Digital Pen Tablets and Displays to Engage Every Learner

Artists, animators, illustrators, graphic designers and other professionals involved in creative and design professions have long used Wacom digital ink solutions as part of their everyday professional work. In the past 18 months, educators have also discovered the many instructional advantages of using digital ink as they teach, interact 1:1 with students, and create resources for students to use in class and beyond.

Wacom pen tablets are affordably priced, beginning at just $79.95 for the One by Wacom, a great starter pen tablet for educators. And Wacom also provides a continually growing portfolio of educator-created articles, videos and tutorials, to make it easier for educators to begin using digital ink and integrating this technology successfully into instruction. Check out the latest videos here and visit Wacom online for more information.