Best Practices for Student Engagement

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Today’s classrooms have students not only from a broad range of social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds, but also with special needs in cognitive, emotional, and physical areas. Faced with such varied students, with diverse backgrounds or different needs, how can a teacher expect to engage each one for optimum learning? This issue welcomes articles that show how schools can use a strengths-based approach to education that takes into account the assets that each student brings to the table. What can teachers and school administrators do to recognize individual student’s strengths and build upon these to maximize learning and students’ full participation in the life of the school?

ASCD Express is looking for short, 600–1,000-word essays on the theme “Best Practices for Student Engagement.” Guidelines for submissions are here; please send us your submissions to express@ascd.org by October 31, 2012.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I love the use of technology in the classroom if it is available. We live in the age of technology and it should be used in a classroom as well. Students are growing up with ipods to tablets and they love to use them. Why not create further engagement with our students by using technology in the classroom.

    • I agree that it is vital that we use updated technology in the classroom. Many children are fascinated with computers or software. There are some children who have never used technology. It would be great to introduce them to this great machine at school. I noticed that my students love to explore new learning games. They will interact with the different links and share new ideas with the other students. Computers are great learning machine when used to enhance education.

  2. I agree that technology must be used in the classroom to keep students engaged. I am fortunate because I work in a building where we have access to I-Pads. Most of the students I work with cannot afford an I-Pad so they are ecstatic when we use them. The students are mesmerized while using the I-Pads, and they become so engaged that they don’t even realize they are learning. I also utilize a website called tweentribune.com which allows students to blog on topics that they find interesting. I have had tremendous success using this website with students who dislike writing. Students are fascinated with technology so I believe it is imperative as teachers we utilize to enhance instruction.

  3. One of the best tools for improving student engagement is piquing their curiosity. I love when I am able to use technology such as the smart board. I suspect that many of today’s students are visual learner’s because of the television and Youtube. Unfortunately, I do not have smart boards in every teaching situation. Not every principal sees the importance of incorporating technology as an instructional tool. When I do not have technology I then have to rely on my ingenuity by piquing the student’s curiosity. I also like to try and illicit strong emotions. My understanding of how we learn is that the higher the emotion during the learning experience the greater the level of retention. Recently I was teaching Murders on the Rue Morgue. I was teaching tone I turned out the lights had my students close their eyes and a touched to scare them. Once they were pleasantly frightened by the feel of hairy spiders and bloody entrails I piqued their curiosity by having the students think of words that can illicit fear. The test was to see if Edgar Allen Poe was successful in creating fear. This was an incredibly successful learning experience. The students were curious to see how the author would be able to create fear with out the use of music and lighting as in a movie. The students discussed how the setting helped them to visualize the setting and they were very frightened.

  4. Teachers are faced with a big challenge, to reach all of their students diverse needs. Technology can be a very effective tool, but I agree that it is not always available and teachers need to rely on their bag of tricks, the good old fashioned way to reach their students. Piquing our students’ interests with authentic learning experiences and highly engaging material is critical no matter what the subject matter. I find that simply showing enthusiasm or adding humor to lessons and activities works for engaging students. In addition, students can benefit from effective and exciting visuals. Overall, technology does a great job of creating interest, but with the variety of individual learners in the classroom a teacher has to draw from multiple styles to reach success for every student.

  5. I highly agree with technology integration. However, today my district’s internet connection was down, there went my trip to the computer lab, and my YouTube showing of a video. Of, course these elements would have been high-interest engagement activities, but similar to other comments, I had to pull out the “tried and true bag of tricks.” We shifted gears and I had some students at a listening center (old-school technology) and some students were able to incorporate art into a group activity. The key to today’s student engagement was small group interaction. With today’s growing class sizes the students tend to feel lost in a sea of classmates, but in smaller groups the dialogue is more meaningful and students are actively engaged because they feel like they have a better opportunity of being heard or contribute to the learning taking place.

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