A few years ago, I read a post that called this generation of students EPIC -- experiential, participatory, image-rich and connected.
I believe all of these things are true about our students and when we incorporate these attributes into our lessons, our students reap the rewards. After all, these are similar themes that I see behind popular titles like Teach Like a Pirate and Lead Like a Pirate.
No doubt, our students have external stimuli available to them 24/7, yes, even during the school day. But when we craft lessons that allow students to learn experientially, allow them to participate and collaborate, connect content with images and give students opportunities to discuss or connect (in person) we enhance our chances of keeping students engaged and excited about learning.
The best news is that with technology, there are tons of great tools that allow you to give students the opportunity to connect and participate in class discussions. Flipgrid just exploded onto the ed tech scene and provides students the chance to respond through video. There are also great ways to incorporate Twitter into the classroom to connect students. You can even go old school and try out Tabletop Twitter! There are so many ways to easily incorporate the participatory and connected aspects of the EPIC framework.
As a preservice educator, I've discussed, written about and presented on this EPIC framework time and time again. When I write lesson plans or unit plans, and when I look toward having my own classroom, I always look for ways to incorporate these four attributes into the design.
I love the idea that crafting engaging lessons is the best form of classroom management and the EPIC framework is a solid foundation.