Your Class is Boring – One Good Way to Make Your Class Their Favorite

by Sam on September 6, 2011

One of the best ways to take a boring topic and make it interesting to your students is to connect the lesson with the students’ personal lives.

Before I entered administration, I taught history for over 20 years.  Many times, I had to present a lesson on a particular subject that I know was boring for 8th graders.

My experience with 8th grade history was not a good one. My history classes growing up were boring. It was a lot of names and dates and events that happened a long time ago.

When I became a history teacher, I made a promise to myself to make sure that my classes were not going to be boring. I was committed to doing whatever I needed to do to make history class my students’ favorite class.

I learned early on that keeping this promise was not that easy. The subject matter was just not interesting enough to 8th graders. I could talk about the Constitution or the Branches of Government or the War of 1812 with all of the enthusiasm I could muster, but the kids just didn’t get into the lesson.

I would use pictures on a PowerPoint slide, movies about the event, first-person narratives, but the students just didn’t get into it.

Then I figured it out.

History was boring, because the students had no connection to it.

That’s when I started making some changes in how I delivered my lessons.

I began connecting the lesson to the lives of my students.

 I would ask questions of the students that had to do with what the lesson was about.

“How many here have ever had your parents make a new rule for you without even asking you about it?”

“You ask them why, and they say, ‘because I said so.’”

I’d get the kids to share an example or two. Then I’d compare that with how the colonists felt when England was treating them unfairly with some of the laws they were imposing on them.

All of a sudden, the kids could connect with the lesson, and when it came time for the test, they remembered the information, because they had something in their own lives that connected with it.

The lesson I learned was that the more you connect the lesson with the lives of the students, the more engaged they will be, and that will result in less-boring class.

Here are some points to remember when connecting kids with the lesson:

1. Ask questions like: How many have ever…? Ask for a show of hands first or you’ll have a lot of redirecting to do. Students like to share their experiences.

2. Tell a personal story. Kids love stories. We all love stories. Connect that story with the concept you’re trying to get across. It’s OK to add a little elaboration. They’re not going to check.

3. Ask students to tell a story. Be careful with this one. Too many kid stories will eat up your time and often lead to other non-related stories.

The main point is that any topic can be made more interesting by using current events or experiences to connect the lives of the students with the lesson.

It takes a little work and preparation, but if you want your class to be the one that students want to come to, your first priority has to be to make your lessons revolve around the lives of your students.

Good luck.

Sam

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/salz/

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