Blogs on Student Engagement

Blogs on Student EngagementRSS
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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Donna Wilson, Ph.D.January 22, 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.

During the school year, students are expected to listen to and absorb vast amounts of content. But how much time has been devoted to equipping students with ways to disconnect from their own internal dialogue (self-talk) and to focus their attention fully on academic content that is being presented? Listening is hard work even for adults. When students are unable to listen effectively, classroom management issues arise.

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Joshua BlockJanuary 22, 2014

Blogger's note: This post focuses on the importance of integrating collaboration into classroom practice. In my next post, I'll talk about strategies for successful facilitation of collaborative work.

A Learned Skill

Sharing my rough writing with others is a miserable experience. I know that outside input is a crucial part of revision, yet I squirm uncomfortably as those I trust make comments and probe with questions. Inevitably, I begin to feel resentment grow as I am forced to reevaluate passages that I thought were clear.

If collaboration feels this challenging for me with those whom I trust and respect, it must feel even harder for my students because:

  • I often make a point of dividing them into heterogeneous groups that include students with different skill levels.
  • The projects I assign require agreement and coordination between all the members of a group.
  • I expect the final products to be polished and ready for a wider audience.
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Suzie BossJanuary 17, 2014

I recently visited a school district where teachers are experimenting with Genius Hour. Sometimes called 20 percent time after the Google practice of reserving a day a week for individual research, Genius Hour offers students a regular time each week to tackle projects that reflect their personal interests and passions. (Blogger A.J. Juliani explains the reasoning behind 20 percent time.)

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Mary Beth HertzJanuary 17, 2014

This school year I joined the staff of a 1:1 high school here in Philadelphia. Students at the school have access to their own devices, which they take home with them. Although I've taught for many years in classrooms where each student had a school-issued device, the experience of my new students taking their devices home has forced me to reflect on the issue of distraction. How do we teach students to integrate technology into their schoolwork and their learning while also making sure that they're staying focused on the task at hand?

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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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