As teachers, we are constantly thinking outside the box to come up with ideas to get our students excited about school. Sometimes they’re a hit, sometimes they’re a HUGE miss, but it doesn’t stop us from trying to come up with some great student engagement event ideas to keep our students “thirsty for more”.
Student engagement event ideas don’t need to be big productions or something that takes hours of planning to execute. It’s just a matter of something that gets the students excited to participate, whether that is inside or outside of the classroom. When thinking of student engagement event ideas, there are a few key pieces to keep in mind.
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Questions for Student Engagement Event Ideas
What is your goal?
The number one reason to plan events at your school will ALWAYS be to engage students. What are you trying to accomplish with this activity? Are you having a difficult time reaching certain students? Would your student engagement event ideas help you to do that? How so?
What is the level of student engagement you are trying to reach?
Having a sit-down activity with your students might be great for one day and then not so much for the next. Keeping that in mind, do you want short and sweet or long and engaging? How many minutes will this take-up of their time daily/weekly/monthly? How many students are you trying to reach? Is it the whole classroom or just a handful of students that are struggling with your lesson?
The more specific you can be in this stage, the better. It will help give you an idea of how to make your student engagement event ideas flow and work for your class.
What is the age of your students?
Depending on the grade you teach will help determine what activities are the best. Younger grades might enjoy participating in student engagement event ideas that is an art project while older students would probably get more out of a debate-style activity. Some ideas can work with all ages, even across different subject areas. You just have to be open-minded when planning your student engagement event ideas.
What type of students do you teach?
Do you have a group that sits back and observes or one that is very active and can’t keep still? You may want to think twice about inviting them to the dance floor. (But hey, we never know how creative we can be…if your school rules allow it, why not have them perform their own dance moves?)
How loud is your class? Does it make it more difficult or easier to plan an event where you will need some level of quiet focus? (This one isn’t as much of a student engagement event idea as it is logistics, but thought we’d throw it out there!) Sometimes the only way to “teach” certain lessons is to have a quiet environment, so be aware of this going into your planning.
Where are you?
This one is pretty self-explanatory but it plays a huge role in how you will execute your activity. If you have an awesome classroom with lots of room, you have the opportunity to get up and moving with your students. If your class is too small, you might want to avoid having students running laps around the room…unless of course, you are trying to tire them out so they will fall asleep.
How much time do you have?
As teachers, we know that our days never seem long enough to get through all of the required curricula and manage to plan engaging student engagement event ideas as well. This is where it might be helpful to map out the activities you would like to plan and check them off as they are completed. If the students will be doing most of the work, you might need to save some student engagement event ideas for a different day or time in your week/month.
Who will implement the Student Engagement Event Ideas?
This one is HUGE. If it’s not planned and executed perfectly, you will lose several students in the process.
What is your teaching style? Do you like to plan and do it all on your own or would you prefer someone else take control and give it a shot as well? This doesn’t have to be everyone’s responsibility so don’t feel bad if this isn’t something you want to do all of the time.
When planning student engagement event ideas, we always want to keep our class in mind. They might seem like little furry creatures that ruin every lesson plan you come up with but they are human and need us just as much as we need them. We just have to play into their interests and mold them into a learning opportunity. It’s not easy, but it can be done with proper planning and patience.
Specific Student Engagement Event Ideas
You can take student engagement event ideas to the next level by providing students with thematic-based lessons that focus on reading, writing, math, science, history, and just about every other subject out there. We all know that getting students excited about learning is tough but rewarding when done right! Below are some examples of themed-based student engagement event ideas for you to get started.
Themed-Based Reading Lessons
1. Spiders and Their Webs:
Introduce students to spiders by teaching them about its environment, web design, different species of the spider (fun fact – there are over 100k different species), zodiac sign, end of life cycle (yes, they die like every other living thing), and much more. (Webs for Webs)
2. Poetry Time:
This student engagement event idea is great for those students who enjoy writing their own poetry or would like to tap into that creativity. It can be as simple as a “write a haiku about me” activity or a more complex writing lesson for a large group of students. The goal is to help them tap into that creative side and let the words flow from their pen, pencil, or marker.
3. Book Review:
For those who enjoy reading, student engagement event ideas like this one is perfect! Using a book review sheet, have students read a book and fill in the sheet with what they liked or didn’t like about it. This activity not only engages students in reading but also writing, which is a two-for-one type of deal.
4. Character Analysis:
For those who enjoy reading (and writing), this is the perfect student engagement event idea for them! Using an online resource like Book Creator, Students can choose a favorite book to write their own characters analysis paper on. Depending on your reading level you might have students do one on themselves or their peers which will not only promote critical thinking but also self-awareness.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can assign each of your students their own literary character to write about.
5. Poetry Slam:
This student engagement event idea may not be for everyone but it is sure to get the creative juices flowing! One of our favorite things to do is grab some markers and ask students to fill in blanks on a piece of paper with a word that matches the topic. Once they have filled in all of the blanks, we read them aloud one by one and try to make a poem out of them. The sillier the better!
You can switch it up and have students create their own poems with this activity or even assign them some creative writing on their favorite character or theme.
Themed-Based Math Lessons
1. Pizza Party:
Students have a love for pizza – everyone knows it. This student engagement event idea is great because you can incorporate math into your lesson by letting them find out how much their favorite homemade pizza will cost, adding up the numbers on the toppings they choose and adding up the cost of it all.
2. Different Ways to Spend Money:
This student engagement event idea has students explore their love for money by allowing them to figure out how many pizzas they could buy, how many toys they could save up for, or any other activity where they have to figure out how much money is left after spending a certain amount. This lesson can also be tied to history and social studies for students to understand what life was like hundreds of years ago – penny-pinching!
3. Water Fight:
If you’re looking to get your class outside and moving, this is the student engagement event idea for you! Depending on where you teach (we’re hoping in a school with a pool) you can have your students engage in a water fight. Not only will they get some exercise this way but it also teaches them about area and what happens when two objects intersect.
4. Pizza Math:
This is another activity that encourages students to use their money-solving skills! Ask students specific questions like “I’m selling these items at the rate of $5 for _____. How much would it cost me to sell all 12?” This also encourages students to be specific with their numbers and vocabulary, which will boost test scores in no time!
Science Student Engagement Event Ideas
1. Hands-On Science:
This student engagement event idea is perfect for everyone because it keeps students engaged and talking about the lesson! During class, we like to pass out materials and ask them to follow our instructions in order to see what will happen when they mix these things together or do this particular experiment.
This activity can even be done at home for those who like to experiment and find things out on their own.
By getting students hands-on, they will retain the information you taught them and may even ask if they can do it again! Science is all about exploring new things so why not let your students explore some science together?
2. Game Time:
This student engagement activity idea isn’t one that you would typically find in a science class but it’s the perfect way to end your day and talk about what you learned. We like to play name-that-science-fact with our students and we often get quite competitive! The more we play, the more interested they become and everyone has so much fun!
This activity is also perfect for those who like to mess around and find out the answers on their own because we will oftentimes let our students do that with several hints.
Social Studies Student Engagement Event Ideas
1. Drawing Maps:
As teachers, we all know how hard it is to get students interested in geography and other events that happened in the past. This student engagement event idea is a favorite among our team because it keeps everyone involved and asking questions!
We start off by drawing a basic map on the board with countries marked out and we ask our students to fill in the countries and label them as we go.
Once they’ve labeled those, we start asking questions like “What country is next to _____?” or “What two countries would you have to travel through in order to get from ______ to ______?”. Students will usually catch on pretty quickly and enjoy the activity because they love to see their answers written down on the board.
2. Geography Games:
This student engagement event idea is perfect for everyone and teaches students about different countries and how they interact with each other! One of our favorite games to play is called “Trade” where we say a country and students have to raise their hand if that country trades with their country.
As the game goes on, students love to see which countries trade with each other and why they wouldn’t necessarily want to! These are always fun conversations that students enjoy having.
3. Trivia Game:
This student engagement event idea is perfect for everyone because it’s more of a fun activity. We start our class by going through a few geography trivia questions that students have to answer as fast as they can! These questions vary from easy to hard but we never tell them how many points they’re going for. Our students always love finding out if they got it right and the conversation that usually follows is always very interesting.
This student engagement activity is one that we like to do when we’re learning about a certain type of government for the first time. We will ask students what they think the government should be like and who they would want in charge if it was their country in this situation.
Then, we will cut out people and place them on a map to see what type of government they would have.
Once finished, we like to ask our students which person was their favorite out of everyone and why that is the case! We often find that this leads to some great conversations that go on for days.
This student engagement event idea is perfect because it gets your students talking about themselves and has them getting to know one another! We start off by asking students what type of country they would be and why.
We ask questions like “What language would you speak in your country?” or “If you were the leader, what laws would you make?”. These are great questions that stir up some interesting conversations within our class.
Once we get a good idea of what type of country our students would be, we create a map with their name on it and then label everything else.
We start by asking questions like “What climate would you live in?” or “Would you have any natural resources that your people could use?”. These conversations always lead to good follow-up questions and some nice open discussions that everyone has a part in.
Student Engagement Event Ideas and the 4 Keys
Coming up with student engagement event ideas that will get your students excited isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.