Posted in LEARN

Increasing Student Engagement

The LEARN team met last week, but with the really short week combined with some sick Kinnee kids, I am just getting around to blogging about it now. I know you have been WAITING for this email to come to your inbox!

The LEARN team is for any teachers to join, and the focus is to study the Danielson rubric to improve our own professional practice. This week, 3 different teams met with 3 different focuses: student OWNERSHIP, student ENGAGEMENT, and formative and summative ASSESSMENT.

I am not going to write about all 3 of these topics in this blog entry because it would be too long. If you are a teacher in 214 reading this and want to join our schoology page to access the LEARN team resources, here is the join code: HP9WS-XQ7BM.

Today, I am just going to focus on student engagement. We KNOW student engagement is important! We KNOW it leads to increased student learning! We WANT students to be engaged in our classes! But, sometimes it feels like that is really, really hard to make happen.

In preparing for these meetings, I came across this important quote about engagement and motivation I wanted to share with you from “Student Ownership of Learning as a Key Component of College Readiness” (Conley and French, 2014, p. 1021):

Motivation is an internal state, while engagement is the manifestation of motivation behaviorally.

I loved this quote because it made me really think about engagement differently, especially in how it is related to motivation.

We were using a resource from Implementing the Framework for Teaching in Enhancing Professional Practice (Danielson et. al.) to help us think more critically about how to shift our classroom activities to be more engaging. The authors highlighted 5 ways to increase student engagement:

  1. Make activities that include multiple correct answers or pathways to get to the correct answer: When work only has 1 correct answer or 1 way to get to that answer, it tends to be less engaging.
  2. Make activities that involve student choice: when students have choice about WHAT they learn, HOW they learn it, or how they SHOW their learning, they tend to be more invested in the learning.
  3. Make activities that are relevant to students: when what you are doing has personal meaning to them, they care more!
  4. Get students collaborating: Learning is a social event, and students are social people! When they are talking, collaborating, and working together, they are often more engaged.
  5. Consider the rigor of your activities: When students feel sufficiently challenged, they tend to be more engaged.

I can see how some of these shifts would help students feel more motivated to do well in my class, too!

After considering these engagement strategies, is there something you can tweak in the next week to make one of your lessons more engaging? If you try it and find success, would you share your story with us? We will only become better teachers if we work together to LEARN about best practices in teaching.

Thanks for reading!



Teaching and Learning Facilitator at Wheeling High School English Teacher Apple Teacher

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