Ways to Stay Relevant to Keep Students Captivated

Author: Rich Atkinson

When creating your lesson plans, consider the vocabulary of your teenage students. Sprinkle in Gen Z words, emotive words, and a blend of the expected and unexpected to keep your students interested.

Keeping Students Captivated

The following four tips can help:

1. Grab Attention With What Your Students Know
Learn some slang from Gen Z. For instance, you can write CEO on top of your students’ papers when they do well on a quiz or test. In Gen Z language, it means they have mastered something.  When it’s appropriate, use other modern slang in moderation. In college, my music professor used a slang word for “cool” two decades past its time. So be relevant, not out of touch.

2. Grab Attention With What Your Students Feel
Teachers, your students use the same Google search engine on their computers as you do. Yet they use different words, go to different websites, and have different interests. Marketers and analytic gurus drive traffic to their websites with emotive power word-packed headlines. Power words cause clicks. The words connect with your dreams and desires. Having power words scattered throughout your lessons can create greater participation as students track with your lesson. In the search engine, type power words and find a few you can add to your lesson.

Here are three samples of emotive words in italics:

We have a quiz on Friday, but here is a freebie …”

Daniel Boone’s escape from his Shawnee captors was almost super-human
—he covered 160 miles in four days by pony, a makeshift raft,
and on foot to warn Boonesborough of the impending attack. 1

In a math class ask your students, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Then explain how learning math can help you be more financially stable by combining math with common sense. Spend a few minutes talking to them about saving, spending, and compound interest. Make your lesson plans pop by connecting with your students through power words and life lessons.

3. Grab Attention With What Your Students Think About
Give your students an anonymous favorites quiz of just five questions to find their likes. Here are some questions, but you can create your own:

  • What’s your favorite music genre and song?
  • Name your favorite TV show or movie.
  • What’s your favorite hobby?
  • What’s your favorite fast food hangout?
  • What’s your favorite scent?

The main idea of the quiz is to get to know your students and help you understand their learning styles.

4. Grab Attention With Curiosity
Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo has a section with the theme of what’s novel or new. So whether we are clicking on a headline because it is unusual and stirs our curiosity, such as “Local Man Bites Dog,” or listening to a TED Talk, ask yourself, “what can I add to my lesson to better engage my pupils?” With well-chosen power words, you can connect with your students emotionally and relationally, so it feeds their learning.

Borrowing from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ideas to craft lessons using power words can be very effective. Listening to your students and finding out about their interests should go a long way in adapting lessons that keep them curious. The payoff is having students motivated to learn in an enjoyable classroom setting. To learn more ways you can keep your students’ attention, go to 10 Ways To Engage Students With Humor

1 –Drury, Bob., Clavin, Tom. Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and The Fight for America’s First Frontier. United States: St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2021. p.274-275.

About the Author

Rich Atkinson

Rich Atkinson began his writing career with a community paper in Ohio.

He has worked for a magazine. Travel assignments have taken him outside the country to Haiti and Guatemala. In the U.S., he has journeyed to Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and many other places for feature stories.

When not writing, Rich finds time to read and enjoys listening to authors discuss writing on podcasts and in YouTube videos.

Scroll to Top