Engagement, The Sequel

enthusiasm-1Our visitors came away with a strong sense of life at Salt Creek.  My favorite quote today was, “There is so much writing!” and there were other comments about the amount of authentic and meaningful work students were doing.  Here are some highlights related to engagement:

Partner Talk – was evident in several classes.  A specific strategy worth noting was observed in Ms.  Renee Jones class.  She came across a student who couldn’t answer and told her she would give her a thinking minute.  Mrs. Jones then told a friend to go over to the lost child and  share his ideas.  Brilliant!   Mr. Stone had his partners working on a comprehension activity noting details in the text through looking at illustrations. There were lively partner discussions about the significance of each illustration.

Knowing your Craft – Engagement is enhanced when students know exactly what they need to do and where they need to pay attention.  Subsequently we saw lots of examples of clear expectations that helped students focus on the work at hand.  Furthermore,  appropriate pacing helps keep students on their toes and ready for more and that was also seen in many class.   Teachers who are experts at  teaching “the kids who are in front of you” can adapt on the fly to maintain that attention and focus.

Self engaged – We saw lots of evidence of students having the tools to think, talk, and especially, write – at their disposal – which allowed them to seamlessly think, talk, and write about their ideas.  They were clearly taking responsibility for their learning and approaching GRR Nirvana.

Shared Writing –  This ancient strategy from the year 2011!!! Perfect for engagement.  There was lots of interaction and input from different audience members.  Mrs. Fallon crafted a great biography of Clara Barton with her little friends.

Passion/Drama/Gestures/TPR/Animated Teachers – Contagious enthusiasm even when artificial.  We know there’s a little Hollywood in every teacher.  Mrs.  Allinger is ready for prime time and Robin Jones is ready to bring down the house.  They have a presence – demand attention, and they’re not alone.  You all have some serious skills when it comes to being center stage.  Are we bringing back the Salt Creek Staff Talent Show entry?

Content and Product – Engaging Texts lead to engaged students.  Boring topics lead to bored students.  Literature Circles (Mr. Kriss, Ms. Basto and others) consistently show students working with texts they enjoy.  Products involved choice. For example, students have choice on writing topics and were therefore excited and enthused.

Whiteboards leading to Feedback – When students get immediate feedback to know if they are on the right course, that also increases engagement with the task.

Random Calling– We did a little better with random calling.  10 were using random calling system.  1 had quasi random calling and 3 were calling on students who raised their hand.

Questions for reflection

Similar to yesterday, let’s reflect on teacher talk v student talk.  Here’s a good question for reflection:

How can you infuse more meaningful student talk into the lesson?

Overall, engagement was very high and nearly universal.

What am I doing to make sure every student is engaged at all times, including English Learners, RSP, GATE, and Not Yet Proficient?

In conclusion, today uncovered tons of evidence of learning here at Salt Creek.  From my perspective, I had conversations with several students who clearly and explicitly answered what they were learning and understood why.  Your efforts to create those meaningful experiences for kids is paying off and it is clearly a mark of your collaboration and teamwork that has produced these results.      Keep up the great work for your awesome Salt Creek students.



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