Fellow Educators – Are you Engaging?

My Substitute, “Dr. Health”

I’d like to introduce you to a character that I have developed, I call her “Dr. Health”.  The book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess inspired me to create this character, use a costume, and bring Dr. Health into my classroom.

Dr. Health begins her morning by greeting each student at the classroom door and introduce herself, “Good morning, I am Dr. Health and I am substitute teaching for Mrs. Gorwitz today.”

While in character, I ask each student what their names are and shake their hands, as if meeting each one for the first time. The students look at me and smile, they are curious, engaged, and humored as they tell me their names.  I have even had students choose to make up their own names as well, then I call them by that name for the entire class.

educators students

The engagement of my students during that lesson with Dr. Health is through the roof.  Dr. Health visits my classroom several times during the school year and the reaction of the students is always the same. They are fully engaged in every lesson and always want Dr. Health to come back.  I space out the visits and make sure that each visit is really special.

I highly recommend Teach Like a Pirate this book to anyone who is a teacher. Included in the book are hooks that help teachers to increase their creativity and the engagement level of their students.

Are you KAHOOT!’ing?

Another tool I use for engagement is called KAHOOT! Teachers can create interactive quizzes and games at KAHOOT!,  and then when you have the students’ play the quiz they go to Kahoot.it and type in the pin you have given them to participate. It is very interactive! Each time we use it, my students are jumping up and down and cheering while they are sharing their knowledge with one another.

I have used KAHOOT! in my health and physical education classroom as formative assessments to see where my students are in their knowledge of what I am teaching. This gives me immediate feedback on where my students are and if I need to reteach a concept, or move forward.

Here are three awesome ways that Alissa DeVito is using KAHOOT! in her classroom.

1.    Introduce a New Topic or Unit – Instead of boring pretests or the same old KWL chart, have students participate in a Kahoot quiz to gauge their prior knowledge. I suggest turning off the “points” for a game like this so students aren’t intimidated to make a mistake. It is a pretest, after all!

2.    Challenge Another Classroom – Did you know students in different locations can play at the same time?! Set up a Google Hangout, Periscope, Skype, or virtual conference with another class or school anywhere in the world, use the same pin to enter the game, and play each other!

3.    Play Towards Mastery – Allow students in your classroom to replay quizzes using Ghost Mode. This allows students to essentially play against themselves. Students will work towards their own mastery and see the growth along the way.

What are you doing as an educator to engage your students in their learning?  Do you have a colleague that is using different strategies to teach a lesson?  Are you on Twitter? 

There are so many awesome physical educators and teachers on Twitter who share great ideas on engagement every day.  I challenge you to look at your lessons and determine how can you engage your students this week in your teaching. Let me know in the comments below. We’re all here to help one another!

About the Author: Crystal Gorwitz is a Physical Education/Health Education Teacher at Hortonville Middle School in Hortonville, Wisconsin.

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