Dealing With Short Attention Spans
The generation of students coming through the classroom right now have a shorter attention span than ever. Their brains are plugged in and overstimulated all day long. It is essential that you keep your class moving at a fast pace or you’ll lose the majority of them. Keep a roller coaster mentality when planning your lessons.
There are a variety of factors that affect student learning in the classroom. The main factor is the teacher in the room and specifically what that teacher does or does not do. How does the teacher interact with the students? Is the teacher reaching the highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy? Is the teacher providing differentiated instruction so that different learning styles have the same opportunity to learn?
Even if you are doing all of these things you can still fail to keep your student's attention. To engage a student, your lessons must be fun and fast. Don’t lose ground to boredom. Going too slow will likely result in less learning gains for the group as a whole than going too fast.
I know this is not the most academic explanation of student learning, but it’s in line with common sense. While it may not be possible to have fun all the time, we can all do things to speed up the pace of our class and make things more interesting. Think of your content as the meat or main course and the fun stuff as the seasoning. Nobody wants to eat bland food and nobody wants to sit through a learning situation that has no flavor.
A large part of the problem is that educators have too much on their plate already. Spending time thinking about how to make a lesson more fun and interesting takes time--not to mention implementing the idea after we think of it. If there is one thing teachers don’t have, it’s extra time. That’s why summer time is the absolute best time to look at your lesson plans and figure out how to spice up your lessons so they are more appealing to your students.
When looking at your lessons, here are the top three things you should be looking at and tweaking: