Do you know why most students are really bored in their classes?The question is asked in an effort to gain teacher insight regarding this issue.

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Students must take ownership of thier own education!  Why do they get bored?  Maybe the way the material is being presented is boring.  In my experience, High school students will do what you set them up to do.  If you engage a kid with a cool demonstration, he is much more likely to listen to the principles behind that demo. Teachers need to not be afraid of teaching the same concepts in different ways.  One quick example.  I was reviewing the states of matter with my 10th grade biology students.  Very simple matter for most of them, could be done in a "boring" way by listing each state and writing examples. We chose to make ooblick (2 parts corn starch, 1 part water) and try to identify it as a solid or liquid.  For those of you who have never messed with a non-newtonian fluid, it is liquid unless you apply pressure to it and it becomes more solid.  Youtube has some interesting clips with people running on these liquids.  Much more interesting than a list of solid, liquid, gas... .zzzz. zzzzz....

I agree that students need to take ownership of their own learning. I am a proponent of Paulo Friere's concept of learning, along with the feminist learning theory of Bell Hooks.

I think teachers need to be interesting, yes. I am a teacher and I have taught since 1982, so I know that's true. But we need not become entertainers. I mean: there may be "some" boring aspects that still need to be taught.

As a parent I enforce my son doing his homework. And I stress learning everyday in our regular environment. But mostly I do it because I enjoy learning; and I want him to enjoy learning also. He does I think because he sees that my husband and I read a lot and enjoy learning.

I think there is a larger problem in our culture that discourages learning and that is seeking instant gratification. I also think that desiring money above all things is also a false value that is encouraged in our culture today. I think back to when I was my son's age. It was during the Vietnam War. We tried to change society. We believed we could change society for the better. I think that is a noble ideal even though it didn't work so well. Nowadays most of the students only aspire to get rich or become famous. I think with those ideals it is hard to justify studying hard and learning.

I don't know. But I think it is a combination of teachers trying to be stimulating and students being ultimatley responsible for their own learning.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I attended a seminar recently. I was forced to sit in a chair for an hour and listen to a speaker who talked at length, quite knowledgably, about a subject that related to my life in no way at all. Was I bored? Yes, indeed. Because I was a student for an hour? No. Because I'm a human! So, first and foremost, students are people, too!

In any class, the person who is doing the talking is doing the learning. The "sage on the stage" method of instruction is the least effective, research shows. To be engaged, students must be active, physically and mentally. They need to move physically rather than be confined to one space for an extended period. They need to think and speak, rather than listen passively. They need to act.

Lessons must bridge the gap between "the world in here" and the world out there--the real world of their real lives. Creative lesson plans are a must to accomplish this. Stories like Freedom Writers demonstrate the power of making this real-world connection. The reality link can be accomplished in lots of ways, though, without elaborate arrangements.

Human beings are social creatures, regardless of their ages. Being cut off from all social interaction in a classroom guarantees problems and disengagement. Students will engage and learn a lot from each other when the teacher engineers the right climate and provides organization and direction.

Incorporating any form of technology into the classroom is effective because it bridges the gap to the real world where we all live. Incorporating interactive technology resources turns students into doers. Allowing students to use technology resources together to solve problems meets their need to socialize. Using technology iin the classroom is effective because it meets these basic human needs, not because it is hip or cutting edge. These same needs can be met in many other ways through creative lesson planning.

 

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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When I was twelve and thirteen, I was really into science, especially rockets and space. It was the early days of the US space program, and I was so absorbed by the whole subject that I even made my own crude, pen-top, match-head rockets in my basement. This was so long ago, folks, that there was no NASA yet!

Then came October 4, 1957. That was the day that one of the greatest events in the world of science, space, rockets and technology shocked the world: Russia had launched the first man-made earth satellite, the basketball-sized, shiny, silvery Sputnik. I was soooo excited.

October 4 fell on a Friday that year, and I absolutely couldn't wait for school to start on Monday when we could talk about this monumental event in science class. Well, Monday came, and there I finally was in 4th period science. I sat at my desk near the back of the room all excited and full of anticipation. The grey-haired science teacher stood up at his desk, paused for a second and said, "OK class: open your chemistry books to page 419."

Of course, my heart simply sank in my chest. This was not a student participation class; this was a serious science lecture, day after day, and you did what the teacher told you to. I was crushed with disappointment and did what I was told to do.

But I did learn a serious, life-changing lesson that day. When I became a teacher, many years later, I determined not to ever make the same myopic mistake that my eighth-grade science teacher had made so many years before. Every class, for the last thirty seven years, I begin with the same sentence. I ask this loud and clear: "Does anyone have anything to say?" Be assured that this is no idle question. All of my students learn from the very first day of class, and know for certain, that I am sincerely interested to hear and discuss what each and every one of them may have on their minds. They know that comes first.

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snsuber | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I agree with many of the points previously made, but numbers 15 and 17 are the only two that follow my intial gut reaction to the question. I truly believe that a teacher must do all that is possible to engage the students (as the other 15 people said before me); however, I believe the true problem right now in American education hits on the lines of what 15 and 17 said.

There is a definite trend in teacher education and professional development for teachers to work with Multiple Intelligences and get the kids up and about to engage them. I know that I do these things in my classroom and many of my colleagues do also, but we are still stumped by probably about a third of our students who just don't seem to care.

Our students are growing up in a world that teaches them that they never have to take the responsibility for anything. Burn yourself with hot coffee at the McDonald's drive thru? Sue McDonald's. Why would they make their coffee so hot anyway? Slip on a wet floor at Wal-Mart with a caution sign right in front of you? Sue Wal-Mart. What were they thinking cleaning their floors? Bored in English class? Gotta be the teacher's fault. How dare they not make this stuff more interesting?

Some of this engaging education hoopla is really important and some of it is actually a song and dance that actually takes away from true learning. Perhaps we should trust the trained professional to know when to choose which, and we should expect our children to realize that their education is their responsibility. Sometimes students just have to go home and memorize those multiplication tables. No song. No dance. Just learning because the student wants to learn and needs to learn for future success.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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When students are bored, teachers have GOT TO look in the mirror and say, "What am I doing to plan lessons that bore my students?" This is extremely difficult for most teachers to do. I didn't learn to do it until I went through National Board Certification and had to videotape my classroom.

There are many strategies that middle and high school teachers can use to make lessons interesting and participatory, using technology or not. However, most of them, especially high school teachers, fall back into the mode of teacher talking then students doing seatwork. This is intensely boring to students.

As a longtime high school and middle school English teacher, I have long since come to the conclusion that you cannot please everyone no matter how hard you try. Many students are totally turned off by the thought of attending English class or participating in virtually any kind of reading, writing, or discussion of whatever subject may be at hand. I find most students do enjoy visual presentations, i.e. movies and videos. Naturally, these non-written forms cannot become the backbone of an English class, but I do try to use them more than most English teachers. Since today's students have grown up in the computer age, I believe the use of PC and laptop assignments--whether Internet or non-Internet based--are also more student-friendly and more often receive positive responses than pencil and paper work. Obviously, the teacher is out of luck if PCs or laptops are not available or allowed in the classroom, but keeping up with the times and using a more modern approach to creating assignments is essential in the 21st century classroom. 

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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When students are bored, teachers have GOT TO look in the mirror and say, "What am I doing to plan lessons that bore my students?" This is extremely difficult for most teachers to do. I didn't learn to do it until I went through National Board Certification and had to videotape my classroom.

There are many strategies that middle and high school teachers can use to make lessons interesting and participatory, using technology or not. However, most of them, especially high school teachers, fall back into the mode of teacher talking then students doing seatwork. This is intensely boring to students.

  I tend to agree with you.  If my students are bored, I take full responsibility and start looking at my teaching methods and materials.  Perhaps I can spice things up a bit or engage them in something more interactive.  Weather permitting, we sometimes move our lesson outside on the lawn or up in the library.  It's the same lesson, but in a different surroundings and they love it!

If it's hi-tech that stimulates them, intersperse your lesson materials with timely DVD's or slide shows.  Every student these days responds to these types of media.  And, a lecture becomes more interesting if there are pictures to go along with it.

Another solution I've discovered is when students are bored and you seem to be losing them, try doing something physical and get them moving.  An activity lasting only five minutes can refresh and stimulate and get them back on track. 

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fernholz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Students who are engaged in learning-not bored-are those who feel like they have a choice and are held responsible for their learning. First obtain feedback from students. I give a Reading Interest Inventory at the beginning of the year. When I find out a student does not like to read I figure out their interests.

Sometimes students don't like to read because they find it difficult. It's the teachers job to find the ability level of each student and gear lessons to meet their needs. Students will feel successful and connect to lessons when they are taught at their level. Those students who seem bored probably lack the ability to keep up with other students in the regular classroom.

Another tool I use to engage students is the Smartboard. Some schools may not have the funding to supply Smartboards, but if you have one use it! There are so many great, interactive activities that students really enjoy. When I teach vocabulary to my students we use the Frayer model. Students each get a word to present to the class. They are given time to find information about the word. Finally they write their word on the Smartboard while their peers write the word on their own sheets. This is a great team building activity!

Overall I have noticed my students becoming more engaged in the lessons when I offer choices, do interactive activities, and hold them responsible for their learning. We also use the SIOP model and explain why we are learning this. It helps them connect to the lesson!

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msteacher203 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Student engagement is a severe problem in today's educational system. There are various ways to increase engagement. I agree that today's students live in a high-speed information age where technology dominates a large percentage of their day. Yes, teachers should be well-versed in different ways of incorporating technology into their classroom. PowerPoints, SmartBoards, and ELMOs are all excellent ways of teaching concepts in a visually ( & possibly auditorally) pleasing way. However, not all teachers have access to this equipment.You can also incorporate technology by creating student projects that relate to technology. For example, have students design a poster of a given character's (or mathematician, historian, etc) MySpace or Facebook page.  They can include a short biography, important quotation, "Top Friends", song or playlist that represents them, etc. Similarly, have students write out texts or aims literary characters would exchange.

In addition, teachers can create review games that are fun. Look up games like Boom, Baseball, Spider, Mastermind...or incorporate game-show ideas like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Jeopardy or Password. Also, any timed review revs students up. Beyond these steps, teachers must give students real-life applications & reasons for learning. By simply telling them WHY they should be invested in a given topic, half the buy-in process is complete. Last, know your students, especially their interests and motivations.

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mrtoad | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I teach in an inner city school where many students find summer vacation so boring that, when autumn finally comes, they are happy to be back in school.  I have often wondered how they could possibly be so bored when most of them have easy access to cable TV, video games, the internet, etc.  My experience suggests that these young people become bored at home in spite of all of the wonderful sensory experiences that modern technology is able to deliver because they are often unable to make television, the internet and video games relevant to their daily life.  Generally speaking, I have found that when students grasp the relevance of any course of study to their everyday lives, boredom evaporates and they become motivated learners.

Helping students become engaged, thoughtful learners seems to require a willingness on the part of educators to help students find relevance on an individual basis when necessary, because the reasons for their boredom are legion.

A word of caution:  There is an element in learning that is, often necessary, and generally not fun because the relevance is not part of the learner's immediate experience.  Such is the case with a piano student who is required to learn his/her finger exercises.  He/she knows that those exercises create "muscle memory" of musical patterns in the fingers which ultimately lead to learning new music faster, but most students find the exercises boring until they experience the relevance.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Many good things have already been asserted on this topic, some of which I firmly agree with, and some that I'd like to modify slightly.

For one thing, high-tech gadgets and blinking internet wizardry are not completely necessary to maintain an engaging, non-boring classroom. I am fortunate -- I teach at a school where we have SmartBoards in every classroom, various computer labs for intensive reading help, among other things, and a lot of technology that other schools don't yet have access to.

That said, some of the best lessons I have had in my class have occurred when the SmartBoard is turned off, and when no one has their laptop, cell phone, or other "gadget du jour" available. It is in those moments when we as a group truly get to connect with one another -- no false pretenses, no Facebook personas, just kids being kids, and their teacher being himself. When all the technology goes away, students are left with nothing but themselves, and while that may be uncomfortable at first, after brief adjustments, students very much respond to it.

Technology does not equate to Engagement. The two complement one another, perhaps, but we as educational professionals must not make the mistake of placing all our faith in shiny classroom toys, some of which are more hype than help. It is our choice to have engaging classrooms, and our responsibility as well. A bored student is our cue to step it up and be the best we can possibly be.

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kemorton | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Children today are growing up in an entertainment based world.  Their entire lives are digital: from their cell phones, to T.V., to video games, and MP3/iPods. 

When students step into a classroom (unless the school has a high budget) they are not seeing all these technological devices while learning.  Too many teachers are still teaching by lecturing, but students now need more.

In order to keep students engaged, they need to be interested.  Technology interests students.  Giving them the ability to demonstrate understanding of a concept through a PowerPoint presentation is more appealing to them then a paper-pencil test.  Their creativity is brought out and they are more inclined to try their best and be more attentive.  When students see papers in color under an ELMO rather than an overhead, they are more engaged.  The color speaks to them and they have an easier time focusing.

Until allteachers incorporate technology daily into their lessons, students will continue to be bored at school.  Now, is this the teachers' fault? No. Is this the students' fault? No. No one can be to blame that our great nation has developed technology in such a way that it interests young minds.  Older minds just need to do their best to adapt and become learners once again.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One of the things I think about and try to find ways to deal with is that the very structure of most schools does not always encourage students to be engaged in class or interested.  They often have very little freedom to choose what they want to learn, so you have already taken away that motivation.  They also often have little freedom to influence how they learn what they are being forced to learn, so that chips away further.  Then they are growing up in the most stimulating environment ever seen on earth (tv, internet, etc.) and you are asking them to be engaged in a classroom often for 45-55 or more minutes and wonder why they struggle with it?

A second concern that comes up is that they are always going to be compelled by what is most urgent to them.  If they have a test the following period and they know it is a big deal and will affect their grade (which to many means their future) they are going to be compelled to think about and try and study for that test, regardless of what you might be doing in your class.

Self-reflection can be a big help and modifying your classroom practices can also be a big help.  But remembering that you are going to lose many of those battles unless your school is structured in a non-traditional way is also helpful at times.

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richardl75 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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I think students have been really board in classrooms since their conception. I also feel there are classrooms where students are constantly engaged in learning. The key is the teacher. Societies and cultures are constantly changing. Students enter classrooms each year with a different set of experiences and expectations. I believe students have one thing in common that they all have a brain that is desperately seeking knowledge and answers to questions.

Students become board when the information available does not address their questions, interests, nor stimulate curiosity.

The next question is: "How do we keep boardum out of the classroom?"  As a High School teacher of 30 years I know that the teacher is the key. Professional educators must have the skills and knowledge to assess and diagnose their student's needs and orchestrate lessons that stimulate thinking, interest and inquiry. The one essential skill teachers must possess is the ability to ask questions that facilitate higher order thinking. The ability to ask a set a questions that move students from what they know to synthesising and evaluating new information.

How does a teacher make the decisions necessary to ask questions that stimulate inquiry?

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ernie406 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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By using technology to "un-bore" students in the classroom, teachers fall prey to mediocrity and student pressure.  Technology, used as a viable and intelligetnt assistant to learning, can be a helpful tool.  BUT... teachers need to examine their methods, their preparation, and their passion for their subject.  The real reason students get bored is because of incompetent, mediocre, and stupid teachers.  We have let just about anyone into this profession - anyone who can make good-looking copies and have students complete worksheet upon worksheet.  Teaching is an art, and, while all students are not going to take responsibility for learning, a teacher's knowledge of the subject matter, pedegogical preparation, and, most of all, REAL passion for his/her subject matter will make the difference between a boring classroom and one in which students hold interest.  Be a real person to your students - be an example of a mature, responsible, professional, and intelligent ADULT - make sure your students know who you really are as a person and a teacher, husband/wife, father/mother --- they will respect you more for that than showing them pictures and videos on a SmartBoard.

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missjenn | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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I agree with a lot of great points made in the posts above.

As a young teacher I see two main reasons why students are bored. They are not challenged and invested in/by the subject. Unlike most electives, general education classrooms for core subjects are mandatory for students. While I wish they could see other education systems in the world and feel blessed, I know that the truth of the matter is, they need to see why what you are teaching them in relevant. To challenge students, I find asking them to make connections within their primary discourses a good way to start to get them thinking about a topic. Students do bring their own life experience to the education table and I think this is sometimes forgotten. Ask them to make connections and suggest supplemental texts (for the English classroom this is easy, for other subjects it would work as well with effort.) By having the students incorporate their lives and interests yet also using the problem solving skills to identify then synthesize information for a connection, accomplishes a lot.

Yet if you have a first period class at 7:20 in the morning, it may not be boredom... just lack of sleep.

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