1st Edition

Beat Boredom Engaging Tuned-Out Teenagers

By Martha Rush Copyright 2017

    Are your students bored in class? According to research, a majority of American high school students report being bored in class and fewer than 5% claimed that they were rarely bored during a typical day in school. Former journalist and veteran teacher Martha Rush decided this would not do for her Minnesota students. Moving beyond asking open-ended questions and making connections to their own lives, Martha began to engage her government, journalism, and economics classes in meaty discussions, competitions, simulations, and authentic work, like running a newspaper or starting a business. Building on her more than 800 interviews with high school graduates, she offers up strategies in all subject areas for active engagement, moving way beyond traditional passive memorization of information. She describes how to create innovative experiences in your classroom, and shares her own lessons and her students' work. Beat Boredom will help you join the ranks of teachers who have challenged the status quo and found ways to motivate even the most reluctant learners.

    Introduction: Boredom Is a Barrier; 1: Engage the Students Who Need It Most; 2: Solutions Are Within Our Reach; 3: Storytelling: Give Students Someone (or Something) to Care About; 4: Discussion and Debate: Trust Students to Drive Meaningful Conversation; 5: Problem-Based Learning: Let Students Struggle with Real (Unsolved) Problems; 6: Simulation: Immerse Students in Thoughtful Role Plays; 7: Competition: Give Students a Chance to Prove Themselves; 8: Authentic Tasks: Encourage Work That Matters Outside School; Afterword


    Martha S. Rush

    "Every dedicated educator knows the feeling of spending hours creating just the right assignment to pique the interest of students. But what happens when students don’t respond as expected? Author and teacher Rush expertly outlines six strategies for engaging “tuned-out teenagers”: storytelling, discussion and debate, problem-based learning, simulation, competition, and authentic tasks. Before sharing her nuggets of wisdom, she outlines why boredom is pervasive and damaging to students. Though she acknowledges that there are barriers to change, she encourages teachers to take these risks in order to amp up student engagement. Rush explores why and how to use each strategy, examines challenges, and offers tips. Her ideas apply to a wide cross section of high school disciplines and are supported with research. Anecdotal material provides educators with models that invite experimentation within the classroom. Never preachy, Rush’s easy writing style, augmented with examples of student work, invites novice and experienced teachers to incorporate these strategies into their current practice.

    The suggestions for implementation coupled with an honest evaluation of potential difficulties make this an invaluable resource for teachers who want to take their craft to the next level of proficiency."
    -School Library Journal, Starred Review