Keyword of the Day (Keeping Students Focused)

Keep Their Attention

As the school year ends and summer vacation sets in, keeping students focused on learning can be a bit of a challenge in the classroom. One technique I have used and found to be surprisingly effective is to select one or two keywords in the lesson that exemplify the main takeaways. Once you’ve chosen the keywords, add them to the lesson introduction PowerPoint slides of that class.

Keywords are Key

During the lesson introduction, reveal the keyword/words, and instruct students to raise their hand every time the keyword is mentioned during the lesson. When students raise their hands at the appropriate time, provide them with a reward for paying attention. The reward can be anything—candy, pens—anything you want.

In my experience, students were able to recall the lesson content more consistently and for a longer period as demonstrated by end-of-course content assessments.

 Example #1:

  • Set up: 10 to 15 minutes to incorporate the keywords in the PowerPoint slides
    • Options for displaying keywords can vary from using whiteboards, flip charts and yes, even transparencies.
    • Another way to draw attention to keywords is to highlight them in different colors in the PowerPoint slides.
  • Delivery: In your speaking notes, highlight the keywords as a reminder to assess if the students are paying attention and if you are keeping students focused.

Example #2:

(Content is the property of AAA, excerpt taken from the AAA Driver Improvement Program)

  • Keywords selected: “Visual” and “Cognitive”
    • The first type of distraction is visual. Visual distractions cause you to move your eyes away from the road. For example, this happens when you look at the radio or a passenger in your vehicle.
    • The second type of distraction is physical. Physical distractions mean you’re taking a physical action unrelated to driving, such as when you reach for an object or eat a sandwich while driving. This type of distraction generally involves moving at least one hand from the steering wheel.
    • The third type of distraction is mental, or “cognitive,” distraction, when your mind is drawn away from driving, such as when using a voice-activated text messaging system.
  • Once you have rewarded those who were paying attention, select one or two of the students to define the keyword.

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