Blogs on Student Engagement

Blogs on Student EngagementRSS
Nicholas ProvenzanoDecember 13, 2013

Students want to be engaged in class. They really do -- but sometimes other things get in the way of their natural instincts. A few changes to how a teacher runs a classroom can make a huge impact on how engaged students will be in that classroom. It's an issue that every teacher has to face, but it can be addressed in some very simple ways. Here are just a few of my strategies for dealing with low levels of student engagement. They've made a major difference in my classes over the years.

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Frances PeacockDecember 12, 2013

I'm going to close my grade book now. I'm taking it to the top of a snowy hill. I'll sit upon it and go sliding down the hill. It's the only good use for that book, now that December is here.

Christmas is coming, and my students can't think about schoolwork. They're too busy wiggling in their seats, tapping out Christmas carols with their toes, giving each other reindeer names, and Googling this year's "Santa's Bad List."

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Dr. Richard CurwinDecember 10, 2013

Classroom discussions have been a staple of teaching forever, beginning with Socrates. I have taught using discussions, been a student in discussions, and observed other teachers' discussions thousands of times -- at least. Some have been boring, stifling or tedious enough to put me to sleep. Others have been so stimulating that I was sad to see them end. The difference between the two is obviously how interesting the topic is, but equally important is the level of student participation.

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Matt LevinsonDecember 10, 2013

David Hockney's exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco is awe inspiring, jaw dropping and a tribute to what is possible with a phone or tablet. His imagination is boundless, providing the viewer with a journey into a wonderful world of color, space, expanse and tributaries into landscape and portraiture.

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Joshua BlockDecember 4, 2013

I had been trying to start class for several minutes. Our normal post-weekend check-in had failed. Instead of hearing updates from each other, students were having side conversations about the school dance. Once I regained everyone's attention, two girls walked in late and the whole class stopped to watch as they gave each other a consoling hug before they moved toward their seats.

I was losing patience. This was not the strong start I had envisioned for the first in-class workday of our project. "Who is ready to share the main question for their project?" I asked in an attempt to refocus everyone and manage the energy emanating from 33 frenetic 15- and 16-year-olds.

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Matthew FarberDecember 3, 2013

"I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think." - Steve Jobs

The above quote is on the homepage of the coding website Tynker. Coding, formerly known as programming (I still remember teaching myself BASIC on my Commodore 64 back in the '80s!), has once again returned to classrooms nationwide. A range of high-profile individuals, including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Dr. Oz and Ashton Kutcher, among others, have lent their support to Code.org, a non-profit that advocates a return to coding in the classroom.

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Ainissa RamirezDecember 2, 2013

More people watch the Super Bowl than vote in a Presidential election.

This fact stopped me in my tracks, and I wondered if the tremendous popularity of football could be used as a way to teach STEM. I took on this challenge with journalist Allen St. John when we wrote a book called Newton's Football, a new title from Random House.

What did we find in terms of science at work on the gridiron? Surprisingly, a lot, and many of the topics fall under the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Let me share a few items, which might be useful to you in your classroom.

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Elena AguilarNovember 25, 2013

About a year ago, I read Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. I wanted to tell everyone about this book right away, but I also wanted to let what I'd learned sink in. I wanted to sit alone with my new self-awareness, process my experience, and absorb the revelations I'd had -- all in true introverted fashion. See, as I'd read Cain's book, my predominant thoughts were, "She's describing me! I'm an introvert! And there's nothing wrong with that!" The margins of my copy are littered with stars, exclamation points, and scribbles that, as I look back, reflect my profound relief and gained understandings.

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Margaret ReganNovember 22, 2013

Imagine the intentional focus you would bring to crossing a rushing creek. Each stepping-stone is different in shape, each distance uneven and unpredictable, requiring you to tread with all senses intact. The simple act of traversing water on stones is an extraordinary exercise in concentration. Now think of how, with all the tweeting, texting and messaging that technology has given us, our attention is frittered away by the mundane. The speed of communication undermines the continuum of thought. That rushing creek is much harder to cross.

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Terry HeickNovember 21, 2013

Reading recently through Edutopia's resources on informal learning, I found the distinction between formal and informal learning resonating more strongly now than ever.

For a classroom teacher, this difference is an important distinction. Formal learning happens through strategically planned learning experiences -- often direct instruction from teachers. Teacher and school improvement is driven by the notion of improving teaching and schools, which is kind of a circular argument. At best, we'll get better teaching and schools.

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