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.

Laura BradleyAugust 13, 2012

(Updated 11/2013)

My 8th-graders do their best writing when it is part of a project that is meaningful to them and will be published in some way when they are finished. So over the years, my students have written and illustrated children's books for schools in Uganda, published magazines on topics of their choice, blogged poems from their autobiographies, and showcased their best work in online portfolios.

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Todd FinleyAugust 8, 2012

High school writers often fail to include dialogue in their stories. Perhaps this is because they over-rely on telling narratives. Or perhaps skipping dialogue is a strategy that allows students to elude the punctuation rules that accompany quotations. Regardless, students should be taught that the payoffs for learning a few dialogue-writing skills are ample: dialogue can help develop plot, reveal characters' motivation, create a visceral experience for the reader, and make average stories extraordinary.

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Ben JohnsonAugust 6, 2012

Missy Franklin not only won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke, she also set a world record of two minutes and 4.06 seconds. I was swimming on my back the other day -- certainly not nearly as fast as Missy -- and I wondered how she was able to swim straight without being able to see where she was going?

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Kerri FlinchbaughAugust 1, 2012

At the 2012 Conference on College Composition and Communication, three well-known writing scholars led a discussion on a writing exercise they'd assigned themselves. For 30 days, each wrote for an hour about a different everyday object. After CCCC, three of us -- all friends, teachers and writers -- were energized by the idea of this activity and decided to try it out.

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Mark PhillipsJuly 30, 2012

The high school social studies class has just gotten seated. The lights go out and a video projector immediately begins showing a scene from the film Boyz n the Hood. In the scene it's late at night and two black teenagers walking along a street, both nicely dressed, are stopped, thrown up against a wall and searched by two cops. One of the cops is black. The other is white. The teens are scared and angry. The black cop is physically aggressive and verbally hostile. Then the police just leave, one saying, "You have a good night."

The lights go on. The teacher asks the students to quickly write down a couple of sentences describing their thoughts and feelings while watching this. Students then share their thoughts in small groups.

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Ben JohnsonJuly 23, 2012

Have you ever tried to eat a mango? Well, it is quite an experience. Though mangos are my favorite fruit, I do not indulge as much as I would like because of the hassle of pealing and then eating it. To date, I have not personally found a clean way to eat a mango. It's kind of like trying to peal a peach and then eat it, or maybe even more like buttery corn on the cob -- both a juicy mess.

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Betsy WeigleJuly 18, 2012

Poverty is a huge factor affecting the performance of our elementary students. Schools, districts and states with a high percentage of low-income families can reasonably cite poverty as one explanation for lower test scores or poor performance in other measures of student achievement.

My concern, however, is always for the individual children in my classroom. At that level, should poverty be any excuse for poor student performance?

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Todd FinleyJune 28, 2012

Of the thousands of 18.5-year-olds that I've taught, some could not manage the challenges of college while others attacked higher education responsibilities with full uh-rah commitment. It is from observing the later group's mojo that I derived the following strategies.

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Ben JohnsonJune 26, 2012

According to Robert Marzano's book, Classroom Instruction that Works, 80 percent of what is considered instruction involves asking questions. It makes sense then, that if we want to improve our effectiveness at teaching, of course we would start by improving our questions. I have thought a lot about this topic and I would like to share three specific actions that we can take to improve our questions. To begin with, we need to get students talking rather than the teacher talking. Second, prepare the questions when you plan the lesson. And third, scaffold the questions.

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Dominick RecckioJune 22, 2012

One thing that teaches the lessons of accountability, responsibility, diligence and an appreciation for knowledge is homework. Every student has to do it, and for most kids, it is a necessity in order to do well in school. But its usefulness and whether it's taken seriously are always topics of conversation among students.

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