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.

Todd FinleyJanuary 28, 2014

Since the 1990s, I’ve mothballed the lecture -- "where the teacher talks and hopefully the students listen" -- with other scorned practices: popcorn reading, multiple-choice quizzes, test-prep drills, lower-level "recitation" questions, crossword puzzles and the like. But the fact is that few practices are completely bad or good given the infinite variety of students, curriculum choices and instructional strengths. Besides, making teachers wrong for professional choices blunts their power. I'll come back to that idea.

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Ainissa RamirezJanuary 28, 2014

Science role models were key to my journey. A pinnacle moment was when I watched a show on PBS called 3-2-1 Contact, which featured a segment with a teenaged black girl solving problems. When I saw her doing science, I was irrevocably hooked.

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Petra ClaflinJanuary 24, 2014

For many of us who are intimidated by the idea of "rigor" and exactly what it means to make our lessons more rigorous, thinking about it as a routine can make it more real and doable for us. Because to really raise rigor and push our students, it's not about anything more that we can teach them, it's about setting up the right environment for them to think critically and engage in analysis and problem solving. Discussion is one fail-safe way to do this, no matter the content area. Our math teacher leaders have really been pushing discussion as a key to rigor. Here are some ways to set up a strong discussion routine in your class.

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Dr. Allen MendlerJanuary 23, 2014

"When are we going to ever use this stuff?" is a protesting lament heard by most teachers several times a year. It comes from students with little patience to put up with ideas or concepts too abstract or irrelevant for them to fathom. Many more students share this thinking but have sufficient impulse control to keep their lips from expressing the same thought. Now more than ever, with Common Core emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving in an ever-changing world of information and technology, there are even many educators who struggle to identify content that is important and relevant.

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Ben JohnsonJanuary 23, 2014

Eighty percent of what we do as learning engineers is ask questions. Because this is such a big part of what we do to inspire learning, we should do it really well! I began thinking about the research I have done that says that we have a long way to go before we can say that we ask questions really well, and then I thought of the wild hogs in Texas. There are millions of them. They are definitely not endangered and are frankly on the nuisance list. What if the way we ask questions was as tenacious, energetic and prolific as the wild hogs?

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Rebecca AlberJanuary 16, 2014

When students graduate from high school, there is a collection of important (or core) skills we want them to possess. That's where the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor standards (CCRA) come in. With 32 anchor standards in total in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, these anchor standards are generalized and quite broad. However, you can find more specific skills for teaching each of the anchor standards embedded within the grade-level Common Core state standards (CCSS).

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Shani LeaderJanuary 15, 2014

Through a multidisciplinary project, students at High Tech High North County explored and addressed an issue of concern in their community of San Marcos, California -- the prevalence of tagging and graffiti. By the end, they had integrated the study of fine arts, social science, language arts and technology.

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Heidi A. OlingerJanuary 15, 2014

A Hunger for Recognition

Greg was among my toughest students in a tough year of teaching high school. Physically he attended class, but academically he was missing. He was a freshman invested in his image with older students he deemed cool, and academic achievement was not a group value. He was disruptive and disengaged. But Greg began to care about school the day that study hall rules changed and he could not leave the classroom -- not even to buy snacks. He quickly became hungry and morose, and, already the enemy, I was doubly so for enforcing the rule. Before me was a hungry boy, so I emptied my briefcase of every snack I had: a soft apple, a Power Bar, Dum Dums. I put these in a pile on his desk and said that was what I had.

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David CutlerJanuary 14, 2014

It's high time for more English and history teachers to set aside their literary purism, and to embrace superhero comics as effective and legitimate teaching and learning tools.

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Dr. Richard CurwinJanuary 13, 2014

A sense of wonder and the need to predict -- these are two of the qualities that enrich all of us. We wonder about big things (is there life on other planets?), smaller things (if I write to a friend that I've had a falling out with, will I get an answer?), and smaller yet (what will happen if I marinate my chicken in beer?). Not only is it fun to predict, but prediction is also a strong part of being safe (if the pot recently boiled, I should probably grab it by the insulated handle). The lure of prediction can be easily seen in fantasy football, which has almost replaced the actual games in energy and excitement for many fans.

These two qualities, wonder and prediction, can form the basis of making lessons motivating and full of learning.

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