Blogs on Student Engagement

Blogs on Student EngagementRSS
Steve GardinerApril 16, 2014

Watching a classroom of students working is fascinating. There are students who are engaged, who focus on the task and forge ahead. They get the job done on time, every time. There are other students who start working but get distracted. They work briefly, but as soon as the work becomes difficult or challenging, they give up. They look for help, or they refuse to even try.

What is the difference?

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Ben JohnsonApril 9, 2014

Back in December, on the long drive from Texas to Utah, I had some time to reflect on many things. I considered the reasons why we look forward to the holidays. They are full of celebration, we find out what's going on in the lives of relatives and friends, and we simply enjoy the time together. For some strange reason, that got me thinking about reading Harry Wong's seminal book, The First Days of School, and I remembered being profoundly impressed by his concept of starting school off with a bang by throwing a party on the first day.

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Terry HeickApril 8, 2014

Once it’s begun, you can’t fully separate the person from the task. When the artist is painting, the painter and the act of painting become a single "thing." The emerging artwork becomes a part of it all, too. As a teacher, your "self" is embedded within your teaching -- which is how it goes from a job to a craft. The learning results are yours. You probably call those young people in the classroom "your" students.

The same goes for students as well. There is a pleasing kind of string between the eight-year-old playing Minecraft and his or her digital creation. This is the magic of doing.

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Rebecca AlberMarch 31, 2014

The idea of co-constructing knowledge with students can be a scary thing for many of us teachers. The age-old role of teacher as orator, director, sage has been handed down for centuries and most of us grew up as students looking to teachers in this way. It's hard to shake.

Co-constructing knowledge means giving up the myself and them role of teacher and students and fully embracing the wonder and journey of us.

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There are some wonderful discussions in the Edutopia community right now about girls and STEM education -- have a peek at Women (and Girls) in STEM or Are We Getting Too Aggressive Promoting STEM to Girls? The fact is, women still make up less than a quarter of the STEM workforce in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The good news is that there are some amazing people, organizations, and companies working to remedy this. I've collected some videos to ignite your imagination about what girls can do in science, technology, engineering, and math -- when given opportunities and encouragement.

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Heather Wolpert-GawronMarch 28, 2014

I think when we talk about using music or art or theater in the Core classes, there is still this persistent suspicion that a teacher who plays music in the classroom must be too "soft" or "granola-y." Don't get angry; I'm just stating an observation of perception, not a fact of truth. I would push back, however, that using the arts in the core subject-area classes is far from fluffy.

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Joshua BlockMarch 27, 2014

Recognizing the Disconnect

Anyone who has worked with young people knows the student I am thinking of right now. When greeted, he (or she) keeps his eyes on the floor while mumbling a response. He may doodle constantly, or maybe he takes every free moment to mindlessly scroll through messages on his phone. He is the connection that feels impossible to make. Nothing seems to excite him, and when he turns in work, it is usually something partially completed with little thought.

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Homa TavangarMarch 21, 2014

I attended public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as a public university, and I am the parent of public school students. As the child of immigrants who counted public school access in their equation of the American Dream, I had minimal exposure to private schools growing up, and as a young parent I wanted my children to embrace diversity, thinking this would be found in public, not private, schools.

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The breakthrough happened after the student took the Bartle's Gamer Profile Quiz and we found out that he was a "killer." Off-the-charts killer, but achievement meant nothing to this student. Just like grades.

No, we haven't identified the next school shooter, and I sure wish that Bartle hadn't named one of the four gamer profiles "killer" -- but nonetheless, this student identified with this profile. Jane McGonigal mentioned it in her Gaming Can Make a Better World TED Talk when she discussed an epic meaning. My so-called "killer" student (and we really should rename this when applying it to education!) simply saw things as a battle between good and evil and wanted to fight on the side of good in an epic quest to make the world a better place. Points don't matter in gameplay, and grades don't matter, either. But when we tweaked the kinds of work he was doing in our Gamifi-ED project to focus on "world-changing games," he was suddenly engaged. Now his face lights up when he sees me. He's one of the first kids to class. He's an engaged gamer and, finally, an engaged student.

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Judy Willis MDMarch 17, 2014

If we hope to construct enduring understanding in our students, it's critical that, now more than ever, we know their strengths and interests. By incorporating students' strengths and weakness into authentic learning experiences from the beginning of each unit, while at the same time including opportunities for feedback, metacognition and revision, we promote a variety of cognitive and emotional benefits that can lead to academic success.

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