Upon thinking about this further, I came to the conclusion that hating school isn't an intrinsic quality of middle schoolers-- it's something that is learned as we make our way through our secondary school education. And, as I'm sure all high schoolers know, it's pretty damn easy to unlearn what you were taught in middle school.
(That was supposed to be a joke, but if the shoe fits...)
Earlier today I was directed to an article* that detailed the reasons why students drop out of high school. All of these reasons were perfectly understandable, and I would never shame someone for opting out of something they find to be toxic or detrimental, but there was one reason that stood out to me as particularly avoidable. This is the fact that the #4 school-related reason that students dropped out of high school was that they simply did not like school. This accounted for 36.6% of high school drop outs.
Now I, of all people, understand not liking school. I've got a whole blog dedicated to its flaws, for heaven's sake. But at the same time, I always maintain hope for it to get better, and I've never allowed myself to become completely disengaged from my own learning.
Being a student who has experienced first-hand the way that technology has revolutionized education (and continues to do so), I have seen and used some tools that can be used to stop students from disengaging in class, so I'd like to share some cool sites/apps I've used.
- Kahoot! - This web app works on phone and computers, and allows teachers (or students) to make multiple choice quizzes related to the topic being discussed in the classroom. Students respond to the questions via computer or smartphone and are rewarded points for speed and accuracy. You might want to provide an incentive for the winner of the game, however I don't think it is entirely necessary because students tend to get very engaged and competitive and everyone has fun.
- PearDeck- if you saw my previous post, you'll know how this works. This is like the slideshows most teachers use in class, but it's more interactive than just copying down notes or contributing verbally to the discussion (which, as I'm sure you've seen, students aren't exactly wont to do). Students can answer true/false, multiple choice, or short answer questions using their computers. I found the participation rate to be very high with this one.
- Skype- use Skype in the classroom to communicate and collaborate with other classrooms to get a better and broader understanding of how other classes are learning. (Check out how to use Skype for education here)
- Prezi- students should be able to confidently make presentations as well as respectfully pay attention to other students giving presentations. This is a cool tool for students to make and give presentations. The final product is both informative and aesthetically pleasing.
*special thanks to @CreditFlex on twitter
A/N: These suggestions require access to technology that I know not every district has. I am very fortunate to be in a school district that has a 1-to-1 chromebook program, an Elmo and projector in every classroom, and access to so much great technology. This particular article will probably only appeal to wealthier districts like mine, however there are infinite ways to keep students engaged that don't rely on technology. I might get into those in another post.