BATTLING BOREDOM, Part 2: Even More Strategies to Spark Student Engagement


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Mary Ann Johnson



The strategies in the book on which this course is centered book are divided into eight categories, including work for energizers, technology, vocabulary, and a section on Engagement Strategies that Don't Work!.  Not only are the 79 possible strategies going to help engage your students, but you will find they will relieve any boredom you may be experiencing as well.  Based on sound teaching strategies, you use the processes to get students involved with material you already planned to cover.  No special equipment or preparation is usually required.  Each section starts with key information to explain why that set of activities is valid and, often, needed to re-engage learners.   There is plenty of variety to try with any class, teaching style and grade level.  You will have fun selecting the best fit for your classes, and finding out just how to get the student engagement and focus that makes learning indelible and authentic. 

Text is available used from Amazon for approximately $23.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Find ways to activate student involvement and thinking.
  2. Create activities that will engage students at the critical times at the beginning and end of lessons.
  3. Provide students some learning processes that are intrinsically rewarding.
  4. Reminders of "what not to do" in a special section
  5. Gain ideas to help students who need focused movement in their learning activities.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Harris, Bryan. 2017. Battling Boredom 2. Larchmont, NY.  Eye on Education. 133 pages. 

  • Battling Boredom, Part 2: Even More Strategies to Spark Student Engagement (Eye on Education)
    ISBN# 0415403162
    by Harris, Bryan, Bradshaw, Lisa

    Buy from Amazon


$23 plus shipping for text above, new, from Amazon.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

In 1-2 pages please introduce yourself and describe your own experience in dealing with the challenge of keeping students engaged What seems to be the problems with motivating students and keeping them engaged?

Assignment #2: Introduction

Read the Introduction. t.  The content of the new book, "Battling Boredom 2," gives all new content, and provides recent research about engagement that has been done since the first book.  As you read this Introduction, what are six (6) important quotes, or ideas you found in this article.  Write a minimum of a 2 page paper explaining why they resonated with you.

Assignment #3: Academic Talk

Read Part One: "Academic Talk”
After reading the Introduction, tell why you think Academic Talk is an important focus.  Then in a 2-3 page paper, describe in detail three (3) strategies you liked and the way you might use, or have used them.  ( You can also include any of the variations in Tips and Suggestions if you liked any of those ideas better.)

Assignment #4: Energizers

Read Part Two: “Energizers”

  Describe 2 ways you already incorporate student movement in your class.  Select 2-3 ideas that are new to you in this section and tell how you would like to make use of them in a specific way. 

Assignment #5: Feedback

Read Part Three: "Feedback.”
Have you used a strategy in the past that was particularly effective and engaging?  Describe what you did.  Also, evaluate three of the strategies in this section, describing why you would, or wouldn't use each of those three strategies.   (2-3 pages).                                    

Assignment #6: Questioning

Read Part Four: “Questioning”
Comment on three (3) strategies used in the chapter on questioning, and tell how you might use them, or fit them to your own class needs.  Evaluate what changes you would have to make to use them in your own situation.  Write 2 pages covering your response.

Assignment #7: Technology

Read Part Five: “Technology.”
Select 4 key sentences from the "Introduction to Technology", and write why you chose them.  Was there enough helpful information to make two of these activities likely to be used by you?  Explain which two (2) strategies you would use in some way, and explain how in a 2-page paper.

Assignment #8: Vocabulary

Read Part Six: ”Vocabulary"
Describe a  successful strategy you have used to teach a new or an important set of vocabulary words that students need to know.  Is it like any of the suggestions in this section?  How is it similar or different?  Select one or more of the best ideas in this section that you would like to try, and tell how you would do it.   If you could contribute this lesson plan for this section of the book, decide which activity you would "bump" out in place of your plan. 

Assignment #9: Writing

Read Part Seven: "Writing"
Many of the strategies in this section serve as review strategies.  A big purpose of this section was using "writing to learn."  Tell about one way you use a motivating method for helping students review through their writing. Then select two of the activities you think have potential for your own use and describe how you would use them. 



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #10: Letter to the Author (400 & 500 Level Assignment)

Write a letter to the authors, describing the things you appreciated or would criticize about the organization, information on research, and activities of this book.  Add any other comments or questions from your perspective. 3 pages.

Assignment #11: Lessons Learned & Shared (400 & 500 Level Assignment)

Complete one of the following:

          Option A)

  • Write a 3-4 page paper discussing the ideas from Part 8 "Student Engagement Strategies that Don't Work" and tell about a time you may have used one of these strategies and how students responded.  Explain what you have learned is wrong with the strategy you had used.
  • Share what you have written with a colleague and explain how it illustrates some of the information you learned in this course.
  • Ask for comments from your colleague and write a reflection on your colleague's feedback.
  • Share one of the lessons that you’ve developed for this course with other teachers taking our courses by also contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here.  (
  • For a sample lesson plan template click here. (                                                                     OR
  • Option B)
  • Adapt a lesson to reflect what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Share what you’ve learned with other teachers taking our courses by contributing your Lesson to The Heritage Institute Lesson Library here. (
  • Write a 300+ word article concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had using a strategy from this course as a teacher with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines on our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article. (
  •  Please  email a copy to Renee Leon THI blog curator and media specialist. (
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website. 

Assignment #12: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400 level assignment, complete two (2) of the following assignment options:

Option A)

From online resources create an Annotated Bibliography of five (5) resources suggesting strategies for motivation or engagement strategies. Rate their value in a short description of their content, their feasibility, and their appropriateness for your own classroom use. 
Option B)
Select a book from the Bibliography. Write a 3-4 page paper on what you found of value to compare and contrast with the text.
Option C)
Another assignment of your own design, with prior approval of the instructor.


Assignment #13: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Mary Ann Johnson, M.Ed Adm. has worked with students of all levels, from alternative high school to gifted classes. She has also been a junior high vice principal and is now working with teachers for continuing education in classes, distance learning and building leadership groups. She is a teacher emeritus who has led seminars for educators which focus on developing a quality learner environment for students and for teachers. Her courses are research-based and resonate with user-friendly and energizing content.


BATTLING BOREDOM, Part 2: Even More Strategies to Spark Student Engagement

ERWIN, JONATHAN C. 2004. The Classroom of Choice, Giving Students What They Need and Getting What You Want, Alexandria, VA.  ASCD. 229 pages. ISBN 0-87120-829-6
This book is based on Glasser’s beliefs that people have these motivators:  fun, freedom, power and belonging.  Give students choices, and they will pick the one that meets a basic unmet need.  It is a rich and wonderful book, full of practical and engaging teaching strategies to help teachers achieve important intellectual goals in the process of helping students meet their developing social and intellectual needs.  Erwin believes that while learning is hard work, it doesn’t have to be painful:  Fun is both a prerequisite for and a byproduct of quality learning.

FERLAZZO, LARRY.  2011.  Helping Students Motivate Themselves:  Practical Answer to Classroom Challenges. 
Larchmont, CA.  Eye on Education. 190 pages. ISBN 978-1-59667-181-2
Find a dozen categories of strategies to engage the thinking and processing of your course information.   In this book by award-winning author Larry Ferlazzo, you will see:  How to motivate students, help students to take personal responsibility, deal with disruptive students and classes, find best ways to maximize the chances that a lesson will be successful, and more.  Each section of the book provides stimulating ideas and down-to-earth tools, including lesson plans, and even downloads of the handouts that save you hours.

GALLAGHER, KELLY, In the Best Interests of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom, Portland, Maine, Stenhouse,, 2015, pb.238 pp.  Don't be fooled by the subititle--this book is for every teacher of writing!  The topics are sometimes hilarious and always inviting to ask for student's real thoughts, such as matching a section of a story to the lyrics on a CD.  The teacher provides his own thoughts on topics like "Moments that Mattered," and then students come up with their own llists to generate a piece of writing.  All the chapters are keyed to requirements of the Common Core for writing standards in  an intriguing way.

HIMMELE, PERSIDA & HIMMELE, WILLIAM.  2011.  Total Participation Techniques:  Making Every Student an Active Learner. Alexandria, VA.  ASCD.  133 pages.  ISBN 978-1-4166-1294-0
This book is a highly recommended companion to the text for this course.  It begins with a chapter “The High Cost of Disengagement,” and makes an enthusiastic case for banishing boring education.  The Total Participation Techniques “are teaching techniques that allow for all students to demonstrate, at the same time, active participation and cognitive engagement in the topic being studied.”  Many strategies are described with clear directions, and ways to assure higher-order thinking. The strategies have been field-tested in elementary to college classes. A real winner; very readable.

MARZANO, Robert J, & PICKERING, DEBRA J., The Highly Engaged Classroom, Marzano Research Lab, 2011, pb. 224 pages.
Known as the Bible in linking research on engagement and outcomes to student engagement.  Once it is clear that there are four components to student engagement:  emotions, interest, importance, and feasibility, there are wonderful strategies and a host of downloadable exercises to help put this information into the fast lane!  Everything you have always found was successful and engaging is reaffirmed and refreshed for your successful planning!

MICHALKO, MICHAEL.  2006.  Thinkertoys  (2nd Ed).  Berkeley, CA.  Ten Speed Press.  395 pages.  ISBN 13-978-1-58008-773-5
This is an exciting collection of prompts for creative thinking and visual thinking.  It is addressed to business people, primarily, and it is full of more ideas than you will ever need, but it is a rich resource for fun, engaging, worthwhile creative writing and visual prompts.

RUSH, MARTHA SEVETSON, Beat Boredom:  Engaging Tuned-Out Teenagers, with a foreword by Erik Palmer, Portland, Maine, Stenhouse, 2018, pb 204 pgs. This book provides information about the most engaging big strategies, as opposed to classroom activities.  It includes topics like "Storytelling" to give students something to care about; "Discussion and Debate":, "Problem-Based Learning;" " Simulations;" "Competition'" and "Authentic Tasks" on things "that matter outside of school."  I thought this book gave deeper insights into why students are more deeply attracted to strategies that are more than a daily focus. 

VON OECH, Roger and WILLETT, George, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative, Warner Books,1998, pb, 195 pages.  First, you can enjoy finding out about the ten locks on your thinking that keep you from expanding your own creativity.  Then with the full-page black line drawings in the book, you can introduce the same information to your secondary students.  Follow up with the 64 cards in the pack based on the book (“Creative Whack Pack”) and have your students create a student version of the Whack Pack.  You will have encouraged the most bored student in your class to express themselves in a dynamic and original voice.

WORMELI, RICK, Summarization in any Subject; 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning,  Alexandria, VA.  ASCD. 2005, 226 pages.
ISBN 978-1-4166-0019-0.  Welcome another tantalizing collection of “classroom-tested techniques for written, spoken, artistic, and kinesthetic summarization techniques for individual use or group activities across the content areas.”  The directions and illustrations for the fifty strategies are excellent and ready to use.

ZOMORODI, MANOUSH Bored and Brilliant, How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, New York, St.Martin's Press, 2017,, hb, 192pp. Written  by a blogger who divised a project called "The Bored and Brilliant Project "to investigate what happened when participants tried a weeklong series of challenges designed to help people detach from their devices and jumpstart their creativity.  The book reveals the results and some of the research on our need for some time away from constant stimulation to restart our own creative potential.