#SummerPD: Student Engagement (3c)

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Our school uses the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. We’ve had Professional Development workshops that focused on it, especially since Pennsylvania implemented the “Educator Effectiveness System.”  I attended another PD workshop this summer, but this one focused primarily on Domain 3c: Engaging Students in Learning.

I’m going to keep this post brief, since many of you have read or heard about the Danielson Framework ad nauseam. My focus will be on some interesting key points that I gleaned from the workshop.

We were asked to describe what it meant for students to be engaged in a lesson. Phrases such as “discussions on topic,” “hands on, kinesthetic learning,” “tapping into different learning styles,” and “students collaborating and asking questions,” were a few that many of us agreed on.

Misconceptions

Although we were spot-on with several of our descriptions, there were a few ideas that we held on to that turn out to be false. Primarily, student engagement does not equal “hands on” or even “collaboration,” although those things can be a part of what constitutes engagement. The idea is that students don’t always have to LOOK engaged to BE engaged.

Essential Point #1: Students must be intellectually active in their learning, and the content of a lesson must be challenging.

Think: “Minds-on” rather than “hands-on.” No worksheets here.

Essential Point #2: A lesson must have a discernable structure (a beginning, middle and end) that includes scaffolding, and must have a logical pace that neither rushes nor drags.

Think: Closure, when students have an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned. In our rush to pack everything in in one school day, this piece is often overlooked.

Essential Point #3: Students must make their thinking “visible.”

Think: Pay attention to what students are saying and doing. Student enthusiasm and problem solving are key. Have students who are working collaboratively use a “team pencil and paper” so that they’re truly working together.

Of course, we know that student engagement isn’t just for formal observations, and that not every lesson can be fully engaging to every student every day. But boiled down to these key points, it makes that task much more manageable!

Some other interesting points to note:

Watch at 38:15 Ms. Warburton’s system of getting her students focused on her without interrupting their collaboration.

Check out (no pun intended) this PDF of Ordeal by Cheque by Wuther Crue. We were asked to decipher the storyline based on the checks written by Lawrence Exeter. Although there is no known “true” meaning to what the author intended, it provides a wonderful opportunity to get creative!

Check back for my next #SummerPD topic:

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