How to Help Your Middle School Student be an Active Learner

5 min to read
A middle school student on her school laptop.

Increasing student engagement in middle school can help your student become an active learner. An active learner refers to a student who learns by thinking deeply about concepts and asking questions. Active-learning methods are student-centered and require students to be active rather than passive.

As a Learning Coach, there are several engagement strategies for middle school students that you can introduce to help your student succeed.

Ways of Increasing Student Engagement in Middle School

Once students reach middle school, they are able to do many tasks on their own and start to learn to become more independent. Here are some ways you can help them get on the active learning path as their Learning Coach.

Be Organized

When students can begin to take notes as they’re learning, it helps them to think at a deeper level and become an active learner. Decide on a note-taking format and guide your student on how to summarize new concepts.

Define Key Words

One way to engage middle school students is to define the key vocabulary words they are learning. Help your student to read the words and definitions and make connections to what they already know about the words. While you want them to work independently, you can still review the notes to make sure the words and definitions are correct.

Encourage Self-Monitoring

You can encourage self-monitoring by encouraging your student to periodically stop and think as they read lesson material. Older students should be able to do this either after every few paragraphs, after each page, or after reading a paragraph with many details. 

To support their online lessons, prompt your student to answer questions independently and check their answers. If they get the wrong one on the first try, encourage them to try solving the problem. 

When it comes to math problems students should:

  • Read all lessons 

  • Watch tutorials

  • Complete practice problems 

  • Self-check answers

  • Look for other resources to understand the material further or practice new skills 

No matter what subject your student is learning, you can help them become active learners by reviewing parts of the lesson if it’s incorrect and continuing to work with them as they grow and mature.

Create a K-W-L Chart

K-W-L stands for “Know,” “Want to Know,” and “Learned.” At the beginning of each lesson, have your student list what they know about the topic. Then, they list what they want to know. Once they learn more about the topic, they list what they learned. This can get your student thinking deeply about their lessons.

Ask Questions

Another way of increasing student engagement in middle school is to encourage your student to ask questions. This is especially helpful when they are learning about new topics. Besides asking the basic questions like who, what, where, and when, encourage them to ask open-ended questions like what do you think is going to happen next in the story? Or what do you think is the best way to solve this problem? 

Always Get Clarification

You can’t expect your student to become an active learner if they can’t understand the basic concepts of the lesson. Encourage them to always get clarification. If they can’t do this by rereading the content, have them contact the teacher. This shows they are taking an active role in the learning process so that they don’t fall behind.

Engagement Activities to Encourage Active Learning in Middle School

As you look for engaging activities for middle school students, consider these activities:

Look for Experiments

One way you can encourage active learning in middle school science is to look for science experiments you can do with them at home that can help make what they’re learning in school come to life and reinforce how the scientific method can be applied in different ways. Encourage your student to do research, form a hypothesis, and record their findings to encourage them to see the world from all angles.

Get Them Interested by Connecting Lessons to Their Lives

Make lessons they are learning in school relevant to something they are interested in or interact with every day. If they are learning about coding,  help them understand which coding languages are used for what kind of applications or how algorithms work on their social media feeds. This may lead them to explore the world of coding on their own... and become a more active learner. Scenarios like these can make learning come to life.

Encourage the Use of Technology

Students love to use technology. Encourage them to use their tablets or laptops to research a topic and ask questions. 

 child playing active learning games for middle school students. 

Active Learning Games for Middle School Students

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to active learning games for middle school students. There are many simple games you can play to get them thinking and having fun.

Scavenger Hunt

While this may require some work on your part, you can set up a scavenger hunt and have your student look for items that pertain to a lesson.  The idea is to get them to think about what they’ve learned and how they can apply it as they look for the items.  For example, they could find shapes from a geometry lesson or see how items in the house could relate to a book they’re reading.

Game Night

Challenge your student’s knowledge of what they’ve learned by setting up a game based on what they are currently studying. Provide an incentive by offering a prize for a certain number of correct answers. The goal for this activity is not to test their memorization skills but rather to encourage them to think more actively about what they have learned. Perhaps ask your student to make a playlist for the book in their English assignment. 

These types of active learning games for middle schools combined with the engagement strategies for middle school students mentioned earlier should help get your student on the right path to becoming an active learner. By taking an active role as a Learning Coach, your student can become an active learner.

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