What are the Dos and Don'ts of an Engaged Classroom? | Edutopia
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What are the Dos and Don'ts of an Engaged Classroom?

What are the Dos and Don'ts of an Engaged Classroom?

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We all know that students when students are truly engaged in their learning classroom discipline becomes a non-issue. So without going into specific activities, what I would be interested in hearing what types of activities engage in different age groups, and what types of activities will shut them down. I think we will find that there are more do's and don'ts than we realize!

I'll start with the easy and obvious don't - lecturing! There are those times when you just have to tell them something, but I think it's best to keep this at 5 min. or less for younger students, and not much more for older students.

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Comments (38)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Jason Flom's picture
Jason Flom
Director-Elect in Tallahassee, FL

1. Ask questions eliciting their thoughts.
2. Listen to their responses.
3. Modify/tailor curricular activities accordingly.
4. Laugh with them.

Larry Ferlazzo's picture
Larry Ferlazzo
I teach English & Social Studies at inner-city high school in Sacramento,CA

I've got a lot of ideas on this topic, but my brain is a bit fried tonight.

So, for now, I'll contribute just one idea:

I like to think in terms of two-way "conversation" instead of one-way "communication." Certainly Tracie's idea of not lecturing is part of that, though I also think of it in broader terms. I would consider it a guide for the culture of the classroom, as well as the kind of preferred teacher/parent relationship.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

There's a great article by Tristan de Frondeville on "How to Keep Kids Engaged in Class." Here are his 10 rules to get students engaged.

1. Start Class with a Mind Warm-Up
2. Use Movement to Get Kids Focused
3. Teach Students How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success
4. Use Quickwrites When You Want Quiet Time and Student Reflection
5. Run a Tight Ship When Giving Instructions
6. Use a Fairness Cup to Keep Students Thinking
7. Use Signaling to Allow Everyone to Answer Your Question
8. Use Minimal-Supervision Tasks to Squeeze Dead Time out of Regular Routines
9. Mix up Your Teaching Styles
10. Create Teamwork Tactics That Emphasize Accountability

Thoughts? Do you all agree?

Tracie Weisz's picture
Tracie Weisz
Middle School teacher from Alaska

Great do's and don'ts so far! Some that I am latching on to are Jason's points about asking good questions, and also Elan's point about teaching students how to collaborate - we so often don't think of this as a skill, and wrongly sometimes assume they possess it. I just saw this over on the GenYes blog about lecturing - she makes some good points...http://bit.ly/3YADXN

Bill Warters's picture
Bill Warters
Professor, manager of K-12 website on conflict resolution

A quickly growing group of schools of education are incorporating conflict resolution concepts as part of the key skill set for new teachers, hoping to help teachers create an engaging and conflict-smart classroom environment. A new (free) resource that speaks to this is the Conflict Resolution Education Connection Teacher's Calendar for 2009-2010 that provides ideas for incorporating Conflict Resolution ideas throughout the year. See it online at http://www.creducation.org/cre/lo/teacher_calendar/

Bill Warters's picture
Bill Warters
Professor, manager of K-12 website on conflict resolution

More information on schools implementing CRETE can be seen here as an interactive map.

M. David Lopez's picture

I'm always very surprised when teachers at our school assign mindless tasks and expect students to stay still and just work! Great tips, btw.

DMR's picture
Algebra teacher, Maryland

On the occasion I have to lecture, I'll have students slap their desk.
For example,"If you got that question right, slap your desk."
"Slap your desk if you understand." etc. Shouldn't be overused but it gives a little variation and makes a really cool sound.

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