Blogs on Student Engagement

Student Engagement

RSS

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

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.

Read More
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.

Read More
Donna DeGennaroJanuary 10, 2014

Discovering Self-Direction

"We don't get it. One day she says we should do one thing, and then the next day she says something different." This statement is felt by all but spoken by Carmen, a student from one of the two communities involved in the project. The Maya youth in the Guatemalan pueblos of Chirijox and San Juan La Laguna speak Spanish and their indigenous language. My language limitations leave me temporarily in the dark. I do not completely comprehend her words, but the anxiety is evident. My coworker Marisol explains the tension.

I have encountered this "problem" many times while working with youth. Students expect teachers to direct them what to do, when and how. This educational custom is present in Guatemala, especially for indigenous youth. Learning is scripted and disconnected from culture and community. There is little room for creativity or critical thinking. As a result, students are not used to having a say in their own learning, let alone directing it. However, during their participation in Unlocking Silent Histories, they are in charge, not me.

Read More
Joshua BlockJanuary 7, 2014

Learning is a messy process -- and authentic, project-based learning immerses us in unique parts of this mess. There are days when my check-ins with students reveal that many young people are lost or unclear about how to proceed with the early stages of a project.

"What topic are you going to focus on?" I ask Keith as I kneel down next him.

"I can’t decide. I’m stuck," he mumbles, leaning forward and staring straight into his computer screen as he talks.

Read More
Courtney J. BoddieJanuary 7, 2014

In the 21st century, we are living in a creative society and economy rather than an industrial one, which begs the questions:

  • What skills do young people need in this new world?
  • How can they gain creative skills for innovation in the work place?
Read More
Ben JohnsonJanuary 3, 2014

A while ago I witnessed students taking computer-based classes passing their tests with ease until I figured out what they were doing. They had two screens open -- one was the computer-based course and the other screen was Google, Wikipedia, or Ask Jeeves. When they ran across a question they did not know, they just looked up the answer on one of those other sites (we shut that capacity down in a jiffy).

Read More
Beth HollandDecember 27, 2013

It's my fault. I'll admit it. During my eight years in the classroom, I ruined at least two amazing literary works by assigning horrifically dull reading projects. My only hope is that those middle school students, whose enthusiasm I quashed, found another way to become passionate about literature.

Read More
Ben JohnsonDecember 23, 2013

The more I think about how we have been looking at education, I think we have it all wrong. Up until now, all of our emphasis has been on creating great teachers when we should have been emphasizing creating great students.

Read More
Lori DesautelsDecember 19, 2013

Walking into the kitchen, she spots the community college acceptance letter on top of a stack of mail. Early in December, the Marine Corps notifies him that basic training starts in six months. She's dreamed about attending her mom's alma mater for the last few years, and admissions has responded positively. The auto shop where he's had an afterschool job since junior year has just promised full-time employment beginning two weeks after graduation.

Now what?

This question concerns me as an educator of K-12 and higher education.

Read More
Caroline TrullDecember 16, 2013

Students are taught that a closing paragraph should accomplish three things:

  1. Restate an essay's thesis
  2. Summarize main points
  3. Provide a finished feel

In response to this information, young writers often exhibit confusion. "Aren't I repeating myself if I copy the same content from the first paragraph? And what's a finished feel?"

Read More