Blogs on Student Engagement

Blogs on Student EngagementRSS
Ben JohnsonNovember 11, 2013

I tried every trick in the book: framing the lesson, detailed instructions, hands-on learning, proximity, hand signals, rewards, punishment, and ultimatums -- all to no avail. My middle school Spanish students continued to want to chat, throw paper airplanes, get out of their seats, and disrupt instruction. Only two things that seemed to work in getting my students to pay attention were total physical response (TPR) and worksheets.

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Rafe EsquithNovember 11, 2013

Editor's Note: This post is an excerpt from Real Talk for Real Teachers by Rafe Esquith. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. © Rafe Esquith and Barbara Tong, 2013.

The special activity that has kept me engaged for three decades is the annual production of a Shakespeare play. It did not start out this way. Many good ideas evolve slowly, taking shape over many years and constantly getting better. The backstory of our productions might give you a notion of how your special idea might take shape and become a unique force in the life of your students.

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Lisa MimsNovember 6, 2013

As they enter the room, I wave the big yellow envelope in the air. They know what it is, and the room comes alive with excitement. They can barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents. Their pen pal letters have arrived!

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Dr. Allen MendlerNovember 5, 2013

I was recently in a third grade classroom and was struck by the presence of rules that were posted for how to have a conversation. The poster said, "Each person must contribute to the discussion but take turns talking. Ask each other, 'Would you like to add to my idea?' or 'Can you tell us what you are thinking?' Ask questions so that you understand each other's ideas. Say, 'Can you tell me more about that?' or 'Can you say that in another way?'"

Having visited many middle and high schools, I think these same rules could -- and probably should -- be posted there as well.

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Alfred PosamentierNovember 1, 2013

Motivating students to be (enthusiastically) receptive is one of the most important aspects of mathematics instruction and a critical aspect of the Common Core State Standards. Effective teachers should focus attention on the less interested students as well as the motivated ones. Presented in this blog post are nine techniques, based on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which can be used to motivate secondary school students in mathematics.

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Rebecca AlberOctober 31, 2013

My first year teaching a literacy coach came to observe my classroom. After the students left, she commented on how I asked the whole class a question, would wait just a few seconds, and then answer it myself. "It's cute," she added. Um, I don't think she thought it was so cute. I think she was treading lightly on the ever-so shaky ego of a brand-new teacher while still giving me some very necessary feedback.

So that day, I learned about wait/think time. And also, over the years, I learned to ask better and better questions.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoOctober 29, 2013

When was the last time you asked your students what they wanted to learn? Take a minute and think about that. In the go-go world of Common Core, Smarter Balance and other assessments, when do we focus on what kids want to learn?

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Joshua BlockOctober 28, 2013

Early in my teaching career, I viewed students' struggles as a temporary phase that would end once they started working harder and "figured it out." Students would come to me with questions, or I would notice their confusion and talk with them, but I was very careful not to give them too much information. I was a progressive educator, and if I shared too many ideas, the work would be mine, and not theirs (or so I told myself).

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José VilsonOctober 22, 2013

It's easy to say that students lie to teachers all the time. Frankly, everyone, including teachers, has a lie in them, and these untruths keep the schooling process rolling along. When adults say, for instance, that they develop rules with the students, chances are that students often develop rules that teachers already thought of anyway. Or, when adults say that a student can't use the restroom during certain parts of the day "Just because," rather than "Because the hallways is crowded, and I don't want you distracted from the lesson in the classroom,” that's just one more micro-fib in a collage of fibs that we tell children.

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Rochelle BallantyneOctober 15, 2013

Editor's Note: Raised by a single mom from Trinidad, Rochelle Ballantyne is a champion chess player. See her chess moves against Garry Kasparov. Her inner city junior high school chess team was profiled in the 2012 documentary, Brooklyn Castle, and celebrated for winning more national chess championships than any other junior high school in the country. Recently, this chess champion received a full scholarship to Stanford.

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