Ten Ways to Get Students Involved

  Boys Playing in the Leaves As I was reading through some of my journals this week, I came across the following article.  I hope this validates what you are doing or gives you an idea or two.  Happy thinking!

 In this Edutopia article, consultant Tristan de Frondeville presents ten ways to maximize student engagement:

      Start with an effective warm-up. One strategy is to have students work in teams of three finding all the mistakes in material you’ve written on the board or projected on a screen. When students are finished, ask the team that signals it’s found the most mistakes to describe them, with other teams chiming in with disagreements and additions.

      Use movement. For primary-grade students, this might be hand-clapping and foot-stomping to accompany a chanted verse or a set of math facts. For middle grades, you can model a rhythm with finger-snapping and hand-clapping, which students echo back, challenging them to pay attention and follow your lead. For high-school students (or any level), offer a seventh-inning stretch or the cross crawl (marching in place, raising knees high, reaching across to touch the left knee with the right hand, then vice-versa).

      Explicitly teach collaboration. “Doing project learning and other team-based work without prior training can lead to lots of dead time,” says de Frondeville. One way to prevent this is to give students practice working as a team, for example, creating teams, giving each one a pair of scissors, two sheets of paper, ten paper clips, and a 10-inch piece of tape, and challenging them to build the tallest free-standing tower they can in twenty minutes – and then debriefing.

      Use quickwrites. To settle kids down after active teamwork or recapture their attention when things are dragging, have students do a quick journal-writing assignment. Primary-grade students might answer questions like: What was most interesting about —-? What was most confusing? What was boring about —-? What did —- make you think of in your life? Middle-grade students might respond to: Summarize what you have heard. Predict an exam or quiz question I could ask you on this material. Defend one of the positions taken during the discussion we just had.To avoid getting overwhelmed correcting quickwrites, de Frondeville recommends having students mark in green one particular piece of writing they want you to be sure to read.

      Demand attention for instructions. Be sure students are totally focused when you give directions, says de Frondeville, and simulate the routine five times at the beginning of the year. KIPP schools drill students on their SSLANT expectations and expect total compliance: Smile, Sit up, Listen, Ask if you have a question, Nod when you understand, and Track the speaker.

      Cold call. To keep all students on their toes, write each student’s name on a Popsicle stick and pull one from a cup each time you ask a question. De Frondeville adds that for the “fairness cup” to work, there must be a range of questions and a class climate in which students feel they can take risks without fear of being put down or teased.

      Make every student think. Regularly pose questions to which every student must come up with at least one answer (for example, How many ways can you figure out 54 – 17?), and then use a silent method (fingers on chest, for example) for students to let you know how many they’ve come up with.

      Avoid dead-time by using activities that require minimal supervision. For example, have students do a quick-write or pair up and quiz each other on vocabulary words while you pass out papers, handle an unexpected visitor, or work with students who didn’t do their homework.

      Shift between all-class, small-group, and individual teaching formats. For example, prepare students for a new topic by having them pair up, share their prior knowledge, and come up with four questions they have about the subject. Shift from lecture to quick-write, have students pair-share with a classmate, and then come together for a full-class discussion.

      Reduce dependency. One way is the rule of “Ask three before me” – students are expected to get help from all the members of their team before turning to you. If a student asks a question, this rule can be reinforced by asking if another person on the team knows the answer.

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