Hands on activities, technology and creativity are techniques used to better student engagement in the classroom setting.

And with Millennials filling the Army's ranks, these tools can be key to attracting and holding the attention of today's Soldiers in the Initial Military Training environment, particularly Advanced Individual Training and officer basic courses.

Cadre and staff members of the 84th Chemical Battalion participated in a workshop held Tuesday with Waynesville school district teachers to learn methods to keep their students better engaged.

"Our goal is to provide strategies to help increase student engagement -- involve students in their learning process," said Connie Lund, Freedom Elementary School 5th grade teacher. "If the students have a stake in their learning, and they are engaged, it is going to sink in better than if they are just sponges trying to listen."

The battalion staff gained insight into the necessity of student engagement.

"The importance of this workshop was to help us understand that the kids we are getting today are the ones (filling) our classrooms, actively joining the military, and this was part of coming here. To recognize that the military is changing as society as a whole is changing," said Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Green, Company B, 84th Chem. Bn. incoming first sergeant.

According to Veronica Vergara, Freedom Elementary School 4th Grade teacher, when students are actively engaged in their learning, they retain knowledge, maintain it and use it in the future. They also have better scores and are more willing to accept challenges in a group.

And as a part of the student engagement, Lund stressed building a rapport with students.

"Relationship building makes students feel like you care," Lund said. "It's important for students to be comfortable with their colleagues."

She said it helps when students know each other and are relaxed with each other because they will learn from each other.

"If we build our relationships with our Soldiers here and now, they (will be) able to build relationships with their peers and trust in their leaders later," said Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Pleasant, Co. B, 84th Chemical Battalion outgoing first sergeant.

The Soldiers got a small taste of this by participating in "Get to Know You" bingo, a game in which they interacted with the group and learned a few particulars about them.

Additionally, they added tools to their instructor toolbox like motivators to learn, preferred methods for learning, brain breaks, attention getters, and cooperative learning structures.

"The key takeaways I learned are to be more patient, utilize the materials they gave us, and also know that students (and kids) learn from one another instead of just you as the instructor teaching all the time," Green said.