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Librarian

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Very informative post and comments. Thank you. Things are getting more complicated when you want to check engagement in online context. Do students engage with tutorials we make or it is just a click-click race? Or even better do they learn? Any tip is welcome.

Librarian, NBCT

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In another school district we used the model "Working on the Work" by Schlechty and we had various methods of assessing the students level of engagement when they left class. Often kids seem engaged and we think they are, however the activity may not be as engaging as we think it is. Students can describe their level of engagement:

Engaged – High attention and high commitment
Strategic Compliance – High attention but low commitment
Ritual Compliance – Low attention and low commitment
Retreatist – No attention and no commitment
Rebellion – Diverted attention

Some teachers had 5 jars (or cups,bottles) and a bowl of candy kids could eat an M&M (or gum drop) and then on their way out, drop one in the jar that represented how they felt about the work that day and their level of engagement. Several teachers used this as a form of exit card and the kids are usually quite honest about how the activity engaged them.

Just a thought regarding assessing levels of engagement.

Special Education Teacher in Central Illinois

Kids engaged in my class...

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I teach special education and my role has shifted to co-teaching more than teaching myself. I teach two self-contained classes. As soon as the kids enter my room in 5th hour, I hear "what are we doing today!" They are always every excited. Right now we are reading the novel The Hunger Games. I made a timeline for them that included the dates for which I wanted each chapter read. Each student read ahead. The book was schedule to be done in two weeks but they have all already completed it. That's how I can tell they are engaged.

Special Education Teacher in Central Illinois

I have done exit slips, where

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I have done exit slips, where students comment on what they learned so that my co-teacher and I know if they learned the concepts that we were asking, but I have to say that I have never heard of asking the students if the lesson was easy/hard to pay attention? To be honest, it shows kids that we realize not everything is great but we really do want to get better. I can think of teachers whom I had through the years whose classes were quite boring. I always thought that they didn't care. If they had us fill this out, I would have felt that they were serious about teaching. This is a great idea and something that can be added to our exit slips. Thanks for sharing! I am going to research the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform, too!

Latin teacher in Southeastern Virginia

Engagement or Merely On-Task Behavior?

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I have had some intensive training through the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform. A teacher or administrator can guess a student's level of engagement, but the only way to truly know if a student is engaged is to ask the student. The activities Ben Johnson describes may be signs of engagement or they may not. They are observable on-task behavior. This is not the same as true engagement.

As part of the Schlechty Center training, I have gotten in the habit of asking for students' feedback about lessons in the form of an engagement meter. The meter asks students how easy it was to pay attention to the lesson and how much they've learned from it.

I have had lessons that I thought went quite well from the amount of on-task behavior and from the grades that resulted from students' activity. But the engagement-meter showed students' perceptions were that the lesson was a waste of time. I have adjusted my lessons accordingly.

I am a proponent of active student learning and of hands-on and "minds-on" learning, as Phil Schlecty puts it. But let's remember to avoid assumptions regarding engagement on the students' part.

Visual Arts teacher

Curriculum Integration Project

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At Fraser High School, in Hamilton NZ, we're trying a subject integration approach to increase our student engagement. Students work on an authentic project (producing a visual culture magazine) where its up to them to write and produce everything themselves, with the teachers (three of us involved) facilitating the process. Your comments about these kinds of approaches being risky, sometimes working like a charm and somtimes seeming like seat work would have been better (or safer at least!) rings true. I blogged aobut this just yesterday! http://curriculumintegrationproject.blogspot.co.nz/2012/03/structure-int...

Joint Appointment at GVSU between Math Dept and College of Ed

Dr. Cambourne and What is TED

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Ben,
Thank you for your reply.

You might be interested in Dr. Cambourne's webinar this Sunday (3/4) at 7pm ET: http://globalconversationsinliteracy.wordpress.com/

As for "What is TED?" - I blogged about it, too: http://deltascape.blogspot.com/2011/09/whats-ted.html

Enjoy,
Dave

Administrator, author and educator

Immersion

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David:

Dr. Cambourne seems to know what he is talking about. As a former Spanish teacher, immersion had a special meaning for me. I viewed my job as creating a learning environment in which students would find it difficult not to learn. My greatest tool was immersion. First of all I spoke the language to the students, in addition to gestures, writing and visual cues to meaning (comprehensible input). Second, the learning space inspired curiosity about Spanish speaking countries, different cultures and customs (the walls were covered in travel posters from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, etc...). Third, learning was participatory- Students were invited to speak, dance, sing, cook, eat, smell, draw, sew, act, present, and teach...all in Spanish.
It was nice to see immersion at the top of Dr. Cambourne's list.

Thanks for sharing.
What is TED?

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Administrator, author and educator

Measure Learning by the Decible

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Jody:

This is a great topic. I am so frustrated with teachers clamping down on students for making noise in the classroom. We want them making noise, the more noise the better as long as it is about learning. Yes, there are times to be quiet, but learning is a loud, messy business when students are excited, enthusiastic and engaged. Way to go!

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Administrator, author and educator

Being Intrigued

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Sue:

I found that when I was "intrigued" about something, that "intrigue" tended to rub off on my students. First they wanted to know why I was so interested, and when they found out, they were also interested. There is a lesson here. If you as the teacher are not interested in something, guaranteed the students won't be. If you think something is cool, most likely your students in general will too (my students never got into my jokes though- I suppose they matured beyond my version of fifth grade humor).

Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

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