How Craft Lessons to Engage High School Students

ESLs: Speaking Assessment


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

High school is a pivotal time for students, transitioning from the fundamentals of education to acquiring skills that will serve them in college and beyond. The key to success? Crafting lessons that captivate and engage.

This blog post will show you how to shift your focus from traditional learning outcomes to tapping into your students’ interests.

Explore a dynamic lesson plan that keeps your high school students enthralled and invested in the classroom. Empower the next generation with lessons beyond the basics and inspire a thirst for knowledge.

Engage High School Students with Content

Content is critical when creating interactive lessons, capturing the attention of high school students.

When possible, allow students to suggest new content they are interested in pursuing. This way, they will be more likely to stay motivated and excited.

Additionally, look for ways to incorporate more interactive elements into the lesson, such as using educational technology tools. This helps to bring the otherwise dull subject matter to life and makes it easier for students to retain the information being taught.

Finally, ensure you end each lesson with a review of what the students have learned, which will help them verify their understanding of the material.

Here are four tips for creating lessons to engage high school students:

  • Use relevant, interesting, and thought-provoking content to keep your students engaged.
  • Choose topics requiring critical thinking, discussion, or debate, as these will help to spark conversations and encourage student participation.
  • Look for ways to incorporate more interactive elements into the lesson, such as role-playing, gamification, or team-building exercises.
  • Include previous knowledge from students, including student-centered lesson material.

Embrace Technology to Engage High School Students

Incorporate technology into your interactive lessons to help engage and captivate your students.

Choose apps and tools that are appropriate for the level of learning.

For example, incorporating interactive features such as real-time quizzes, video conferencing, and virtual reality simulations provide a multi-dimensional learning experience.

Videos, podcasts, and audiobooks help break up lectures and spark new conversations.

Encourage Conversations and Interaction

Incorporating activities such as debates, discussion groups, and live surveys encourage conversations and interaction among students.

Asking students questions, challenging their opinions, and providing guidance help them develop critical thinking skills while making the lesson more interactive.

When possible, involve students in the decision-making process of the class. Ask them to think of better ways to do things or offer feedback on their peers’ ideas.

Doing so will help create an open dialogue between yourselves and your classroom.

Create Learner Profiles to Engage High School Students

Engaging high school students can be done by creating learner profiles based on their interests.

By taking a survey to learn about the student’s passions and hobbies, educators can use this information to craft lessons tailored to their interests.

Lessons focused on student interests engage them more in the classroom. Through targeted lesson plans, teachers help instill enthusiasm in their students.

Sample Lesson Created from a Student Survey

Forty-five Grade 10 ELL students in a Chinese high school, international department.

To engage high school students, I created a questionnaire covering four language domains: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

The aim was to get to know the students and allow them to assess themselves. The outcome allowed me to gain useful insights into each student’s level of language proficiency.

Student Questionnaire

My student questionnaire included the following questions:

  1. My hometown
  2. Number of people in my family
  3. Things I like to do when I am not in school
  4. My favourite English movie
  5. My favourite English book
  6. My favourite English song
  7. The sports and and games I like
  9. In English class I want to learn


Once the students completed their questionnaire and we discussed their language learning interests and proficiency, I compiled the data into a spreadsheet. Then, I created worksheets with English statements for my lesson about explaining pie charts and data. 

I found this method interesting and engaging as the data was based on the students’ responses, so they were invested in learning English statements to explain data. 

This video is the lesson following the survey and is focused on explaining pie charts:

Sample Lesson Plan

Explaining Charts

Useful words for pie charts:

Match the words with the pictures below.

  • Slice/share- small part of the pie graph that does not show a number value.
  • A quarter- equals to 25% of the pie graph
  • The majority- more than 50% of the pie graph
  • A minority- less than 25% of the pie graph

Introducing a pie chart:

Step 1: Introduce the chart

  • This pie chart shows…..
  • This is a pie chart showing…..
  • This pie chart illustrates…..  (more formal)

Step 2: Give an overview of the slices

Match the sentences below with the charts.

  • As you can see, the chart is divided into ___________ slices.
  • It’s clear that the easiest English skill is _______________.
  • As you can see here, the class is confident in two skills.

Giving details

……… makes up XX% of…..

……… accounts for XX% of……..T


Engaging high school students is key to helping them develop the skills they’ll need in college and beyond.

To esnure lessons are effective and engaging, educators should focus on what interests their students.

This is accomplished by incorporating content, technology, conversations and interactions, as well as gathering useful information into learner profiles.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


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GENERIC CHECKLISTS FOR USE IN ELPs DESIGNED FOR LANGUAGE LEARNERS AGED 15+ European Language Portfolio Templates and Resources Language Biography. (n.d.).

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