Student Engagement by Gini Cunningham

By admin
Apr 13th, 2014

Remember when you slipped into the back of the room, hopeful to be unnoticed by your instructor, so you could slough off the fact that the homework, reading, and study were incomplete?  Many students find this an effective way to survive school, whiling away the hour while remaining invisible to the teacher. Student engagement strategies engage all students. The back of the room is no longer a cached domain.

  1. Student engagement is evidence of learning – through writing, construction, designing, conversing, interacting, completing a task. It is visible, obvious, and assessable.
  2. Dry erase boards are excellent for proving engagement; ask a question, students respond on the board, they display the answer, teacher assesses correctness/need for review, and then a new question is posed.
  3. Hand signals – pose a question and check for understanding: Thumbs Up! – I’ve got it; Thumbs Down! I don’t. This needs to be entwined with a written response or one shared with a partner for “Proof”.
  4. Wait time. Ask a question, pause, call on a student (see #5). Call on several more. Wait time allows every student to formulate an answer while holding everyone accountable.
  5. Note cards with student names on each one (plus other pertinent information like address, parents’ names, etc.) Shuffle the cards, pose a question, wait for think time, pull out a card and call on that student. Reshuffle the card back into the deck to hold every student accountable for upcoming answers.
  6. Think*Pair*Share and Think*Write*Pair*Share: ask the question and then give students time to think of the answer, share orally or write then share orally with a partner, then call on several students to share with the entire class.
  7. Entry and Exit passes: Entry lets students in/Exit lets students leave. Ask a question based on learning to which students respond on a note card; then use the feedback for beginning or ending class.
  8. Ask questions in the How and Why categories. Add What would happen if… Avoid yes/no questions as they do not demonstrate thinking.
  9. Make partner and small group discussion a part of daily learning. Expect a “product” from the discussion (mini-summary, questions for you, note card of information covered).
  10. Support students as they take over their own learning. Provide the necessary background information and then let them solve problems and situations. You have real thinkers when you act as guide and facilitator not as the know-all being.

© Gini Cunningham (adapted from her book, The New Teacher’s Companion: Practical Wisdom for Succeeding in the Classroom (ASCD). In addition to her writing, Gini is an author, workshop leader, and consultant who provides education for educators.

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