Student Engagement in the 21st Century

Student Engagement in the 21st Century


iPhones, Facebook, Minecraft, Movies, Television, Wii, X-Box, Smartboards, Chromebooks, shall I keep going? Do you get the picture? Technology is so much a part of our lives and of our students’ lives, we just can’t ignore it…and we shouldn’t.

Aren’t we as teachers always on the hunt, sleeping with one eye open just so we don’t miss another way to reach our students? To connect? To get them to learn the information our state says to teach them? Heck yes, we are….well are we missing technology?

Now if you are not a techie, hate technology and are one of those people who as soon as you touch an electronic it breaks don’t sweat it….I am too!

I tell yea…I HATE taking the time to try and learn the newest, latest, and greatest piece of technology, app or software! Us teachers have enough to do!

As a third-grade teacher, I tried to avoid new things at all cost but I soon learned the cost was my kiddos! Kids need to learn in meaningful ways. Ways that they can relate to, connect to and enjoy. If their world is filled with technology then why not harness that power and use it to your advantage in the classroom?

So I decided to try one thing at a time and see how it worked out. Today I bring you my top three ways to incorporate technology into your classroom. Not all of them as techy as you might think!

Easy Ways to Increase your Student Engagement

Google Classroom

Student Engagement

Let’s start with the one on the list that actually involves real technology. If you aren’t using Google Classroom you need to be! I used it with 45 eight-year-olds, so it can be done, folks! Again, I am totally not techie so I’m not going to try and explain how to use it…instead check out this video for the basics. Here are some of the ways I used Google Classroom.

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Student Engagement

Literacy Notes Via Google Classroom

Before I started using Google Classroom I would just have kids take notes on paper. The engagement sucked! So then I got smart……I would create an anchor chart, then create a Google Doc that was set up similar to the anchor chart. I would copy it and push it out to each student in the class. Don’t worry…this only takes one click! Then I would have the kiddos sign onto the Chromebooks and get to the page I sent them on Google. They would use the Chromes to follow along with me and take notes like I did on the real anchor chart. You’re probably thinking…what the heck? Eight-year-olds can’t-do that! Yes, they can! It just takes practice and scaffolding. I had to teach the kids how to log on to Google Classroom and get to the right page several times but kids are like sponges when it comes to technology! They got it super fast! I even picked a couple super techie kids to help others who needed it. Now, the typing thing can slow you down, but just keep with it and pretty soon your kids will be able to type pretty darn fast! The kids LOVED taking notes this way. They felt cool, and their engagement was crazy! Really you can do this for any subject, but I liked literacy the best. The kids will always have access to their notes because they will always be on Google Drive. Say goodbye to lost notes! Our end of the year state testing was on the Chrome books too, and I noticed that when the test came around the kids were super confident on the computers!

iPhone Cut Outs

What kid doesn’t wish they had a cell phone? If they are one of the “cool kids” and they already have one then I’m sure they are wishing they could have it in class. One trick I used was to simply print out a picture of an iPhone and pass them out to the kiddos. You can use them for exit slips, differentiation checks, partner work, and so much more!

Student Engagement

I used iPhone cutouts one year so that my kids could “text” me their new year’s resolutions…..this students resolution was to be cool and hug Mrs. Nilsen……oh boy! 😬

Table Top Twitter for Student Engagement

Student Engagement

Depending on what grade you teach your kiddos probably know about Twitter. Incorporating this IDEA of social media in the classroom is a great way to spike engagement and increase cooperative learning! Now, you’re probably wondering why I wrote the word idea in all caps above…because I don’t mean to actually have your kiddos get on Twitter, make an account and start Tweeting….actually I highly recommend you don’t do that! Haha…instead grab some anchor chart paper, or long butcher paper add the word Twitter and the bluebird to the top and BAM! Your kids will want to participate because they not only think you are the coolest teacher in town but because they feel cool!

Ways to use Table Top Twitter:

  • Lesson extension activity
  • Share time activity
  • Student collaboration
  • Project brainstorming
  • Test review


Whew! Guys being a teacher is hard hard work! Cootos to you for spending your spare time researching and reading up on ways to increase your student engagement! I really hope you try one of these ideas out and that it works well for you and your students!

Happy teaching friends!





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