New Teachers – Lecture Tips That Will Keep Students Interested

You’ve all seen the Charlie Brown episode where the teacher is lecturing and all the students hear is “wa wa wa wa wa wa.” We remember watching that as kids. Unfortunately, seeing this as kids taught us that this was what school was like. Now, as we are adult teachers, we are constantly afraid of becoming the teacher from Charlie Brown. Well, what if we could avoid this? What if we could use this knowledge to create inspiring and organized lectures using Best Practices? I have developed 6 tips for you to help you in creating fun and memorable lectures that will leave your students with long lasting knowledge.

1. Create an objective. We have heard this before from our administrators. Often times we hear this when the administrators come to observe us in the classroom. Write your objective on the board! Say it at the beginning of class! Say it at the end of class! Well, they’re right! By telling the students what they are to be learning and why they are learning, they are more apt to pay attention and way more apt to remember what you’re talking about. It will also help them when coming up with what they should actually be writing down.

2. Have your students do something productive. Your students should not be just sitting there. If you are engaged in best practices, your students should be doing something active with their learning while they are listening to your lecture. More often than not, this means that they will need to be taking notes. But give them structure. Maybe this meaning Cornell notes or maybe it’s powernotes. It’s your call!

3. Break it up. Break your lecture up into different segments. I would say no more than 4 or 5. This way, those who have difficulties processing long bits of information will be able to compartmentalize what you are telling them easier.

4. Separate the sections with different activities. Throughout your lecture, break up your talking by having the students do different activities. For example, have students turn to a near by partner and repeat the top 5 parts of the lecture they have heard so far. Doing this will help them to remember because they are actively participating.

5. Have them repeat through questioning. As you lecture, don’t just talk. Question your students. Question them on different background knowledge that they will know information about. Tapping into this will help them to succeed in acquiring new knowledge.

6. Wrap it up effectively. At the end of your lecture have your students do something with the information. Perhaps its a quick little quiz on the board. Perhaps they will write a paragraph summary.

Whatever you lecture about, make sure to follow these 6 tips to have your students remain actively engaged. This will increase their knowledge and participation. No Charlie Brown Effect here!

Engaging Students in Learning – Tips and Ideas

A brain-based classroom is one in which students are actively engaged in learning. What exactly does it mean for students to be actively engaged? It certainly is not having students complete worksheets, answer basic questions, or take notes of a lecture. Take a minute to think about the definitions of these two words. The word active means moving, working, participating, full of energy, and causing action. The word engage means to require use of / occupy, to attract and hold attention, and to involve. So basically, when students are actively engaged, they are participating and working in a way that is active, full of energy and motion, and they are involved and interested in what is being learned.

Wow! That is a lot to ask from our students, or is it more that it is a lot to ask from us? This type of learning requires much more work and effort on our part in order to be more meaningful for students. It is much easier to read the chapter, answer the questions at the end, and complete a ready-made worksheet. However, there is hope! Many of the new textbooks available now include activities that actively engage students in their learning. Does your textbook have these tips and ideas in the teacher edition? If so, do you ever use those activities in your lesson plans? The next time you sit down to plan lessons, read through the activities provided and think about how you might incorporate them into your lesson. If you don't have a newer textbook or are simply looking for other ideas to get students actively engaged, the tips provided below are for you.


Have students create their own game that applies the concepts and / or skills learned for a particular unit. This activity also integrates writing since students will need to write out the directions. Take some time to look at educational games already available and analyze these with your students. Help them to see the elements found in a board or card game. Look at how the directions are organized and written so students have a model to follow. One of my students made a Colonies game as a project for our 13 Colonies unit. She was able to show all of her learning through the creation of this game.

There are also many excellent games available these days to help practice reading, spelling, math, science, and social studies skills. How might you use Monopoly, the Allowance game, Scategories, Scrabble, Mastermind, or Taboo in your class? While students may think they are simply playing a game, they are actually applying important skills / concepts learned in class. To take full advantage of this learning opportunity, afterwards, have students discuss the different skills they used while playing the game. Did they learn anything new? This kind of debriefing makes connections between playing the game and your curriculum. Without the debriefing students merely participated in a fun but meaningless activity.

Scavenger Hunt

Create a scavenger hunt of clues, phrases, or questions, and have students read through the chapter to find the answers. It is more of a learning experience if the answers are not immediately visible, especially for older students. Make them read the chapter to be able to answer the questions or find the clue. Allowing students to work in pairs or groups adds an extra element of fun to this activity. Again, take some time to discuss the activity and results with the class when everyone is finished.

Another twist on this activity which requires further thinking on the part of the students is to have them read the chapter first and then create their own scavenger hunt. Students then swap the papers among themselves and have a partner complete their scavenger hunt. Allow the student pairs to discuss the positive and negative aspects of the scavenger hunt created. What was too easy? What was challenging? Were the questions / clues misleading or clearly understandable?


Again, this activity works great with textbook reading. Have students work in pairs or groups to turn a historical event, textbook chapter, or story into a play. You could also have students work together to explain a concept or skill through a skit or play. Writing out the script incorporates writing skills into the class and gives you an evaluation tool.

A twist on this activity is to have students rewrite the events or concepts read in the textbook or recently learned through direct instruction as a children's story. This type of activity requires students to think at higher levels. Comprehension, Analysis, Application, and Synthesis are all involved as students must understand what was read and be able to explain and apply it within a short fictional children's story.

Learning Stations

You don't have to be an elementary teacher to make learning stations work. Take your unit and think of five to six different stations of activities or readings for students to complete. Type out the directions for each station, and affix the page to construction paper. We laminate ours so they will last. Next, type out a checklist for students to use when traveling to each station. This will help them know what to complete at each one. To set up, simply put the directions and materials on a group of desks or a table for each "station." When you are finished, put the laminated directions in a manila folder and label it. Then, stick it in your filing cabinet for next year. I actually laminate reading passages, checklists, etc. so I can use them over and over each year. This type of activity is also a great way to integrate other subject area concepts and skills into your lesson / unit.

With all of these activities, it is important that you are walking around monitoring the entire time to keep students on track. Ask guiding questions to help students accomplish the task and get the most out of the activity. You will also need to take time to go over your expectations for behavior and academic results prior to each activity. This reminder along with constant monitoring helps keep student misbehavior to a minimum. It is also very important that you take time to discuss or "debrief" with students regarding the activity. This type of discussion makes connections between the activity, overall goal, and lesson objective for your curriculum. Don't settle for time fillers. With just a little preparation and perspiration you can get your students up and moving, engaged in their learning, and loving every minute of it!

Copyright 2007 Emma McDonald

Tips To Choose Students For Direct Entry Into Schools Of Higher Education

This is a common situation that you have to face. Every year, you have to select from a large group of 16-year olds, a few who automatically qualify to join institutions of higher education even before the final examinations.

This poses a big dilemma when these students have almost identical academic results and extra-curricular activities.

Are there other ways of trying to separate these teenage students and choose the most suitable to enter into the respective educational faculties?

Here are some tips that you should seriously consider.

Philosophical Questions

Firstly, you can create some philosophical or ethical questions to slowly see their own personal stand and bias. The coming new workplace will have a big portion of robotics and automation. Thus it is crucial to see if your candidates are not merely book-smart but am also ready to face the new realities of life.

Video Resume

You can instruct them to make a minute presentation describing their strengths and why they fit a particular faculty. This one-minute presentation can follow the style of a video resume and should have clear dialogue and accurate subtitles to allow the assessor to get a first impression.


You can also contact the referees of these candidates and find out why they want to recommend these students to direct-entry into higher education. It is up to your own experience to discover if these referees merely associate themselves with these candidates just to give blind support but may not know have enough reasons for their support

Extra-curricular Activities

You may have to create an internal system of grading your potential candidates in terms of the results of their chosen extra-curricular activities. For example, a higher grading can be assigned if the candidates have proven leadership responsibilities.

Open-ended Questions

You can give all final-round candidates some open-ended questions and ask them to provide their best replies and analysis to the given case studies. Do ensure that you allocate sufficient time for these activities.

Future Thoughts

Pose a question about where their chosen industries will be headed to in the next few years. This is crucial because you do not want a chosen candidate to switch faculties on a whim. Normally, a good candidate will make an effort to read more about the new chosen path.


The truth of the matter is this. Lego blocks are very good for any candidate to highlight what is in his mind. The Lego pieces are of different colours and sizes and are only constrained by the deep recesses of the candidate’s imagination.

Team building exercise and observation

You can also follow-up by allowing each final candidate to join a team of senior students who are already in the higher educational institutions. Break them into different groups and give them group projects to do. Remember to delegate the group presentation to be done by each candidate and then allow the other group members to evaluate them. This is very crucial because their peers are very good judges of competency and maturity.

Best of luck for your search.