Blogs on Student Engagement

Student Engagement


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

The following is an excerpt from my new book, 'Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers. In the unabridged chapter, I explore specific cross-curricular lessons and activities that teachers can use to help encourage metacognition, think aloud, and storytelling as a means to teach commentary and deeper thinking. This excerpt argues why storytelling is a valuable tool in any classroom, and also gives a word of caution for teachers who use this important strategy.

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Mary Beth HertzMay 25, 2011

It's that time of year. You look up at your calendar and begin counting down to the last days of school. You might even have little numbers in the corner of the boxes indicating how many days are left in the year or until graduation.

Likewise, your students are on the edge of their seats. Maybe the weather has been getting nicer and nicer, or maybe students are in a hubbub about the upcoming dance or graduation or their summer vacation.

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Rosemary OwensMay 19, 2011

Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Rosemary Owens, assistant principal for curriculum at Freedom High School and Tampa FL.


Tampa's Freedom High School was transformed by a student-led initiative beginning in the summer of 2009. A rising senior, Blake O'Connor, and I had the privilege of attending the Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF) on a scholarship from the Bezos Family Foundation. The AIF is an annual gathering of big thinkers from all areas of society, from the arts to science to religion, culture, economics, and politics. Each year, the festival challenges participants to tackle some of the more pressing issues of our times, and figure out ways to replicate solutions.   

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Gaetan PappalardoMay 16, 2011

Updated 01/2014

So, I'm sitting in a workshop on vocabulary development listening to a bunch of research as to why kids lack the language to effectively comprehend and communicate. The largest factor (found by this specific research) that determines a child's vocabulary cache is . . . (Drum roll) . . . In-home communication between adult and child using rich language. No talking, no vocabulary -- makes sense, right? The more you hear it, the more likely you're going to use it, the more you're going to "own" it. It's the purest form of contextual usage. It's life. This makes total sense to me. As a teacher, writer, and father of a three-year-old, I'm always exposing my son to strong, healthy vocabulary. It's not rocket science; it just takes some extra effort to recognize those special times to work on vocabulary (I'm not using the term "teachable moment" here because working on vocabulary really shouldn't seem like a formal lesson; it should be as natural as a friendly conversation).

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Kerri FlinchbaughMay 5, 2011

It is tempting. Every time I sit face-to-face with a student who seems desperate to please, a momentary urge comes over me to take the pen out of her hand and write for her. Then I remember I want what is best for her and resist. If I grab the pen, I will be the one writing, talking, and creating as the student sits idle. But if students are allowed room to discuss their writing, explore their process, make thoughtful decisions about their revisions, and explain their choices, the students are the ones creating and learning. And when I take a step back to look at the big picture, all we are is two writers sitting face-to-face, thinking and talking about writing.

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Mary Kate LandMay 3, 2011

Note: Mary Kate Land teaches Montessori grades 4-6, and is the new facilitator for our Social and Emotional Learning group. She's got some excellent ideas and years of experience working with SEL. We hope you'll join us for some practical, supportive and inspirational discussions.

When I first began working in the field of Social/Emotional Learning more than twenty years ago, the term SEL had not yet been invented, and that made it somewhat challenging to talk with teachers and parents about promoting these skills. Since that time, the educational landscape has evolved to the point that most educators realize how important the psychological aspects of the learning environment can be for individual student progress as well as group cohesiveness. Though we'd like to jump up and cheer, this may actually be a more perilous situation for our field than the total obscurity we've thus far endured.

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Holden ClemensApril 25, 2011

Editor's Note: Holden Clemens (a pseudonym) is an educator who has dedicated his life to providing hope to students in his classroom. He is also a humorist, and he hopes to bring smiles to the faces of hard working educators around the globe. This is the first in his series on how to teach to a variety of different student archetypes.

I wanted to talk briefly today about a series of posts I have entitled: The Other Student. The Other Student is about those kids in your class that seem to fall between the cracks of our great educational system. (It's hard to believe that a student can slip by in a class of 32 with varied special needs, but I heard a story once where a child was left behind, and it made me sad.) Today's post will be on the Missing Homework kid.

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Elliot WashorApril 4, 2011

Editor's Note:This is the second in a two-part series by Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski, Elliot is co-founder of Big Picture Learning, a global leader in education innovation with 62 highly successful schools throughout America, Canada, The Netherlands, and Australia. Charles Mojkowski is a senior associate at Big Picture Learning. The majority of Big Picture Learning's schools are regular public schools, though some are in-district charters.

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Maurice EliasMarch 21, 2011

David Brooks, New York Times columnist, NPR media commentator, and author of the new book, The Social Animal, knows the secret to a classroom that is productive, engaging, and well-managed.

David Brooks, New York Times columnist, NPR media commentator, and author of the new book, The Social Animal, knows the secret to a classroom that is productive, engaging, and well-managed. Read More

Elena AguilarMarch 8, 2011

Some years ago I taught a life skills class to a group of eighth grade boys. The curriculum I offered wasn't working. They were disengaged -- they wouldn't read, write, or talk about what I wanted them to talk about -- and they were mounting a rebellion.

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