Tips For Teachers

Practical strategies to enhance student engagement

We're glad you are here!

Through our work with Anne Beninghof, we have learned many creative and practical ideas to use in the classroom. Our goal is to equip you with simple, effective strategies to try with your students. Whether you are able to co-teach or are on your own, many strategies and ideas we will share can be used by everyone. We would love to highlight some of the amazing ideas you use in your classrooms as well, so please share!

A fun incentive to motivate students

Many teachers use reward systems and incentives. Many times we run into the problem of spending a lot of our own money to provide these motivators. Homemade scratch tickets that include any prize of your choice are exciting and rewarding for students. These are a low cost item that students can earn! Print your prizes with a heading (give it a catchy title) then tape off the prize section with painter's tape. Mix dish soap into acrylic paint (one part dish soap into one part paint) and cover the prize area. Once it is dry, peel the tape off and students will have fun scratching to reveal their prizes!

Make Place Value Visual for Students!

Many of our students were struggling with the concept of place value for addition and subtraction. Targeting this seemed simple- use some base ten pieces, print out a place value mat, put it in a sheet protector, and BOOM- problem solved. Nope. The worksheets with the problems took up too much space, the place value pieces kept falling on the floor, and by the end of the lesson, the place value mats became drawing boards. We needed to find a way to make this lesson effective. Then, a light bulb went off and the simplest solution made a world of difference! The problem was the space we provided for students to use the mainipulatives. So, we used painters tape to transform the entire desk into the place value mat. It was a great success! This is a simple solution that can be applied to all mathematical operations involving place value in any grade level! If your students are struggling, try it and send us your feedback!


This is a quick and easy way to increase engagement immediately. If you are looking for a certain word or answer, draw a quick hangman game and play until the word or answer is discovered. You can be sure that all of your students will want to participate!

Appointment Calendar

We use this tool to create groupings in our classroom. We chose the groups of four and some partnerships, and left a few spaces open for students to have free choice. This way, we can save time when we need to group kids. (We did some leveled groups, and some groups that work well together.)

Motivator for Student Discussions

Check out this blog post for a quick and easy way to motivate students to participate in small or large group discussions.

Text Evidence Tracker

Here's an idea created by Anne Beninghof using a text investigation tool.

We created something similar but more applicable to our students' needs as fourth graders. How can you take an idea and make it useful in your classroom?

Way to Increase Student Engagement!

We wanted to encourage our reluctant participators to join in in a way that was fun and exciting. We hid pieces of an anchor chart under some students' seats, supply bins, tables, etc. As we asked questions some students would share ideas. When it came time to reveal the correct answer, specific students were asked to look in the various places around the classroom where they could find the responses and contribute to the discussion.

Google Doc to share your ideas

Please share your ideas (strategies, tips, teaching tools, etc.)! Include pictures if you would like. This will be a place for Bellingham teachers to celebrate successful strategies and discover new ideas to try in the classroom