How to Get Students More Focused in the Classroom

Engagement is the name of the game in education.  To engage students, I make health class personal.   I worked in public schools, so my engagement strategy was to sandwich every health topic between the student’s family history (we tend to repeat family / my personal history) and the student’s goals (future hopes and dreams).  The subjects of drugs, sex, and nutrition were structured according to:
  1. Subject information / facts
  2. Family’s history (based on my family / my personal history, what is the wise thing for me to do?)
  3. The student’s individual goals (based on the current situation and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?). 
The question, “What is the wise thing to do?” -- Cuts through options such as: 
  1. what can I get away with
  2. it’s not against the law
  3. no one with know
  4. everyone is doing it
  5. activates the imagination in each student. 
The student’s history, current situation and future goals are unique to them.  So the thoughts of right / wrong, or good / bad for them were a unique story with detail. The more detailed the story / picture the fewer the options and the easier the decision making.  We prefer happy, successful stories.   

There is a different engagement style for students who are homeschooled or go to private religious schools.  I call it the 3 legged stool.  One leg is the family history (family tree project), the second leg is the study of goal formation and why some will accomplish their goals and others will not, the 3rd leg is bible verses.  God’s word is very clear on every subject. Just google any subject and specific verses pop up (or use a resource like:  This is how God speaks to believers.  The believer then is either obedient or rebellious.  

For a teen, I think a story is the greater persuader because it elicits emotions.  It captures the imagination and the heart through a real situation.  The reader is motivated by the good in the story and desires to emulate it, or is repelled by the consequences and is fearful of personally experiencing that type of consequence. (This is why, students can give great answers to problems when they are not personally involved.) 
The 3rd leg (bible verses) is the unchangeable standard.  It is the logical persuader.  We use logic when we defend our decisions.  It’s interesting we make our choices based on emotion but we defend our positions using logic.  Be mindful of someone presenting a fact, based upon a biased opinion.  (This is where the student needs to be taught to do their own research).  It is much easier for students to accept being told about something.  However, as educators we need to focus on engaging students in their own reading and research.

I’ve included a worksheet of biblical verses in regard to sexual decisions that the students can search.  I’ve also provided the written verses.

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