Blogs on Student Engagement

Student Engagement

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Get advice from educators on how to build a positive climate for learning, improve student curiosity, and enhance classroom collaboration.

Maurice EliasApril 1, 2014

“But why do I have to go? School is not fun!” That quote is from a first-grade child, asking his mom why he has to go every single day to this place that he was told was going to be a lot of fun, but has not lived up to the hype. If he could articulate further, he might say, "I am only six. I like to have fun, but school is not fun and from what I can tell, it's going to get worse every year, not better."

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Marc AndersonApril 1, 2014

This morning I got lucky . . . I read poems. Not even the blistering wind's roar amidst the frigid temperatures of a lingering winter could keep me from imagining "spring hope."

Spring Hope
And now the weeping willow turns to green.
So brilliant red, the robin’s breast,
Just like the sun, now sinking in the West,
And down the lane more signs of spring are seen.
(M. Jones, Poetry Soup)
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Rebecca AlberMarch 31, 2014

The idea of co-constructing knowledge with students can be a scary thing for many of us teachers. The age-old role of teacher as orator, director, sage has been handed down for centuries and most of us grew up as students looking to teachers in this way. It's hard to shake.

Co-constructing knowledge means giving up the myself and them role of teacher and students and fully embracing the wonder and journey of us.

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Heather Wolpert-GawronMarch 28, 2014

I think when we talk about using music or art or theater in the Core classes, there is still this persistent suspicion that a teacher who plays music in the classroom must be too "soft" or "granola-y." Don't get angry; I'm just stating an observation of perception, not a fact of truth. I would push back, however, that using the arts in the core subject-area classes is far from fluffy.

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Joshua BlockMarch 27, 2014

Recognizing the Disconnect

Anyone who has worked with young people knows the student I am thinking of right now. When greeted, he (or she) keeps his eyes on the floor while mumbling a response. He may doodle constantly, or maybe he takes every free moment to mindlessly scroll through messages on his phone. He is the connection that feels impossible to make. Nothing seems to excite him, and when he turns in work, it is usually something partially completed with little thought.

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Matt DavisMarch 26, 2014

I still remember April Fool's Day when I was a fourth grader. A reading comprehension worksheet went out to the class, and in minutes, we were all dumbfounded. The story and questions were incomprehensible, written in complete gibberish. But our teacher went along with the joke. We had a half hour to finish it, and it was going to be worth a substantial amount of points.

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Mark PhillipsMarch 20, 2014

It's a small town in southern Indiana's beautiful farm country. Once a thriving metropolis, it's now one of many across America that economic forces have reduced to struggling for survival. The local high school population, reduced to a handful of kids, refuses to surrender its identity by being absorbed into a large consolidated school district. Formerly the town's greatest pride and still a center of hope that holds it together is the high school basketball team. Their record last year was 0-22.

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David WestMarch 18, 2014

"School is boring." There is no place for that statement when teachers are creative, engaging and promote genuine learning. But how do teachers make their classes the opposite of boring?

When I began teaching high school business courses four years ago, I was just 23 years old. Because I had recently lived through traditional high school and college instruction, I knew there had to be a different way -- a better way.

Inspiration struck one night, months into my first year of teaching, while watching what was then a new TV show called Shark Tank. Here, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to millionaire and billionaire investors in the hope of securing funding to start, grow or save their business. When I showed my business students one episode, they begged to watch more. At that point, I knew I had something. So, to capitalize on my students' enthusiasm, I created a project out of it.

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Elena AguilarMarch 18, 2014

During the month of March, in many educational settings, women's history is addressed. Images of famous female leaders are pulled out to decorate walls; special assemblies are held; picture books are read; girl power is acknowledged and celebrated. This is all good, but there are some next steps that educators (both men and women) need to take if we're going to truly empower girls and set them up for leadership roles. We need to offer expanded definitions of leadership, take on the "Lean In" vs. "Recline" debate, and walk the talk.

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Stacey GoodmanMarch 18, 2014

Recently, I showed a group of students in my high school art class a film called Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink), about a seven-year-old boy named Ludovic who identifies as female. Ludovic has an active imagination, but is bullied by both adults and other kids who are unnerved by his desire to wear dresses and play with dolls. The film challenged my students to broaden their understanding of gender and identity and led to a discussion about ways in which our imaginations are limited when we are forced to be who we are not. It also reminded me of other examples in which character is forced to choose an identity, such as the movie Divergent, based on the popular trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth.

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