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How Do You Engage Everyone in a Lesson

  1. Allow children to use their imagination especially through role play.
  2. Add challenge.
  3. Add secrecy.
  4. Include some mysterious searching.

These are some things I did recently with my students at the end of the school year. I gave them some background on World War II, told them they were secret spies, and that their spy skills were going to save millions of lives.

I further explained about the enigma machine in which Nazis used to send secret messages which we call cryptograms or ciphers. This set the stage for them to stay actively engaged enough to finish a cryptogram. Even students who normally struggle to figure out normal assignments had a renewed interest in solving a puzzle! For the second lesson, the solving of their second puzzle led them to find a location for their next clue. I have never had a more engaged group of students!

Even the teachers of these classrooms I taught were engaged with figuring out the cryptogram. I included the school secretary as one of the clue givers, and students enjoyed leaving the classroom for a moment to find the next clue. When proud students returned from the secretary with their “Secret Agent” badge, this encouraged others to keep working to figure out the puzzle.

These lessons were some of the highlights of my year, and I hope you enjoy them, too. Here is a link to this critical thinking resource on TPT.

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