Blogs on Student Engagement

Blogs on Student EngagementRSS
José VilsonMarch 13, 2014

A few years ago, Indira Gil, friend and math educator in Miami, Forida, asked me the following:

"Why do we call pi irrational when it's clearly the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?"

Of course, I agreed. Such a pithy thought has swum around my ear for as long as it has because we've come to no resolution on it. For decades, we were always told to truncate pi to 3.14 or 22/7. The geeks might get a few digits deeper (3.1415926535. . .), but generally, this was a given fact and, like many things math, we didn't have to wonder because all the wondering had been done for us.

Years later, I rebuke all of this.

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Donna Wilson, Ph.D.March 12, 2014

Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice.

Incorporating exercise and movement throughout the school day makes students less fidgety and more focused on learning. Improving on-task behavior and reducing classroom management challenges are among the most obvious benefits of adding physical activities to your teaching toolkit. As research continues to explore how exercise facilitates the brain's readiness and ability to learn and retain information, we recommend several strategies to use with students and to boost teachers' body and brain health.

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Leah HirschMarch 11, 2014

For 12 weeks, sixth graders in my class embark on a learning adventure based on the misadventures of a fictional character called Dr. Smallz. The class is a hands-on, inquiry-based, integrated science and math course. Students get a chance to be scientists, designers, makers and players as they learn all about human body systems, cellular functions, and the ability of the human organism to maintain dynamic equilibrium. The Dr. Smallz Mission is a great example of the type of game-like learning experience that creates a powerful "Need to Know" in students, leaving them hungry to learn more.

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Maurice EliasMarch 10, 2014

With National Poetry Month just a few weeks away, you may have already started planning. Exposing our students to the powerful words and images of Maya Angelou's poetry builds their skills in reading, character education, vocabulary, civics, history, and humanity. Deeply exploring the topics and themes found in Angelou's poetry can be inspiring to students, and even life changing.

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Gregor NovakMarch 6, 2014

Suppose you are teaching an introductory biology course and your next lesson deals with genetics. You would like to prepare your students for the upcoming class by asking them to think about the topic. You assign some reading and this scenario to pique their interest:

Allison is driving with her parents when they get in a serious car accident. At the emergency room, the doctor tells Allison that her mother is fine, but her father Bob has lost a lot of blood and will need a blood transfusion. Allison volunteers to donate blood, and you tell her that her blood type is AB. Bob is type O.
a) Can Allison donate blood to Bob? Why or why not?
b) Allison, who is a biology student, begins to wonder if she is adopted. What would you tell her and why?
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Sarah Wike LoyolaMarch 5, 2014

I am embarrassed -- no, actually I would go as far as to say horrified -- that I spent ten years of my career teaching students about the Spanish language. I actually felt proud when they could fill out grammar worksheets with precision. Now, you may be thinking that, as a Spanish teacher, this is my job, but since my enlightenment, I understand that it decidedly is not. I am now certain that teaching them to communicate well in the language is my job. Honestly, who cares whether students can conjugate verbs correctly if they can't tell someone what they need? Getting to this point has required a colossal teaching philosophy transformation, but I've never been more proud of the work that I'm doing.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoFebruary 24, 2014

Too often, I've heard teachers talk about how helpless they feel when it comes to reaching out to their students. The days of being the person whose job it is to exclusively provide students with an education -- and nothing more -- are long over. Honestly, some will say those days never existed. I've never wavered in my belief that teachers are much more than people passing out curriculum. For some students, school is the best part of their day because it offers an escape from their life at home. As teachers, it's important for us to understand that there is so much more to students than the life they lead in class, and it is important to show interest in a student outside of the day's homework. Here are three simple things a teacher can do to connect with students and let them know there is more to school than just a report card.

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Homa TavangarFebruary 24, 2014

For many of us, Oscar week can serve as the annual reminder of how many great grown-up films we have yet to see, and how many kids' movies we've already seen -- over and over and over. Next time you're faced with indoor recess or a snow day, movie night or a free period before a holiday, resist the temptation to pop in Finding Nemo or Shrek (though I love these, too), and use the opportunity to take a journey around the world. Of all the great global learning tools out there, films from diverse countries are among of my very favorites.

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Matthew FarberFebruary 19, 2014

All well designed games begin with a spirit of fun. Some games must deliver a serious and purposeful message, too. An example is Nightmare: Malaria, an iPad game with a similar mechanic as the popular side-scroller Limbo. The difference here is its message: malaria is dangerous and kills, especially in developing nations. Actress Susan Sarandon voices the beginning cut scene, and the action takes place within a sick young girl's blood vessels and brain. The mission is to save teddy bears while avoiding mosquitoes. It's dark and chilling, yet still engaging to play -- no easy feat! When you die, a message about malaria pops up, along with a plea for donating mosquito nets. To preview the game, download for free, or donate a net, go to Escape the Nightmare.

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Mary Beth HertzFebruary 18, 2014

Many educators are worried about how technology is affecting the amount of reading that students are doing. They notice that:

  • Students are struggling to read and comprehend longer texts.
  • Students are struggling to read deeply.
  • Many students report that they don’t read outside of school at all.

There are a few contributing factors to this, technology being one and high-stakes testing being another. We could also argue that kids aren't reading less, they're reading differently.

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