Today, Natalie and I were able to walk through Kinder, 1st, 5th and 6th grade in order to calibrate our graphic organizer for tomorrow’s walkthrough and get some fresh data on engagement. We were able to see some excellent strategies, which we wanted to share here along with some reflective questions.
Examples of effective practices for student engagement included:
White Boards: We saw individual white boards used effectively in Ms. Jimenez’s class. Always a great way to get everyone involved and check for understanding on the fly.
Literature Circles: We saw classes doing literature circles (Given, Ricketts) Engagement was strong because the texts were of high interest (11/12 interviewees) and students were participating in an accountable community of rich discussion.
Partner Talk: The tried and true partner talk was used effectively to discuss with a colleague the rating of a class speech (Kelly) and used to explain one’s thinking on math word problems (Hale)
Hands on Activities: Kindergarteners were born engaged and the hands on activities they were doing today involved counting to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s. (Farrar, Allinger, De Los Reyes)
There were several other thing we saw that increased engagement such as quick and efficient pacing (Stone) Project Based Learning (Dube – Greek Play), gestures (Hernandez) and singing (Farrar, Hernandez) and speech presentations to multiple small groups (table groups) after whole class model (Snider subbing for Escamilla)
Random Calling received inconsistent application: We saw 7 classes that were doing whole class instruction of some sort or other where Random Calling would be beneficial, and in 3 of those there was a clear use of Random Calling with a system of sticks, cards, etc (Hale, Jimenez, and Delgado) We saw two others where there was quasi random calling (teachers were calling on different kids, but there was no system to track who was being called) and two classes where students were called on based on hand raising.
As you can see, there are many varieties of ways to generate and maintain student engagement. We hope you can learn something from your colleagues good practices and leave you with two questions to think about as you seek to keep those students begging for more.
What is the ratio of teacher talk to student talk in your class? (I urge you to try to be aware of student body language, receptivity, and engagement when you are doing all or most of the talking)
What do you need to do to make Random Calling “the norm” in your class when you are calling on students in whole class or even small group instruction?
Looking forward to Thursday morning. All observations should be done between 8:30 and 9:30 and we are scheduling visits in every class, with the exception of 6th grade because of collaboration.