Thursday, May 24, 2012

Student Engagement - Part 3

Here are 3 steps (out of 10) to better student engagement according to math teacher and mentor Tristan De Frondeville. (His article originally posted on Edutopia:

Create an Emotionally Safe Classroom
Students who have been shamed or belittled by the teacher or another student will not effectively engage in challenging tasks. Consider having a rule such as "We do not put others downs, tell others to shut up, or laugh at people." Apply it to yourself as well as your students. This is the foundation of a supportive, collaborative learning environment. To learn and grow, one must take risks, but most people will not take risks in an emotionally unsafe environment.

Create a Culture of Explanation Instead of a Culture of the Right Answer

You know you have created a rich learning event when all students are engaged in arguing about the best approach to the assignment. When you use questions and problems that allow for multiple strategies to reach a successful outcome, you give students the opportunity to make choices and then compare their approaches. This strategy challenges them to operate at a higher level of thinking than when they can share only the "correct" answer. Avidly collect problems and tasks that have multiple paths to a solution. As a math teacher, I create problems that have a lot of numbers instead of the usual two. For example, I can present this problem:
5 + 13 + 24 - 8 + 47 - 12 + 59 - 31 - 5 + 9 - 46 - 23 + 32 - 60
Then I can say, "There are at least three fundamentally different strategies for doing the following problem. Can you find them all?"
Practice Using the Design Process to Increase the Quality of Work

Students in school get used to doing work at a consistent level of quality. Unfortunately, low-performing students get used to doing poor-quality work. To help them break the habit, use a draft-and-revision process.
Many professionals use such a design process to increase the quality of their work. Engineers build prototypes, respond to critical feedback, and refine their design before going into production. Artists make sketches of big works and revise their ideas before creating their final piece. Use the design process to drive your students to produce higher-quality work than they are used to doing when they create only a first effort. Include peer evaluation as part of the feedback they receive.

If I quickly summarize the three, I think of risk-free (or low risk), metacognitive, and zone or flow. I appreciate all three in classes that I have taken, and especially enjoy the design process. It reminds me of one of my favorite classes called Story Analysis run out of UCLA extension's screenwriting certificate program. My teacher, Barney (can't remember his last name), was passionate about exposing us to films that caused viewers to be in "the zone." You know, the movies that take you to a different place or time. You don't even think about the dialogue, acting, music because it is so well crafted. We were challenged to find stories that could take viewers to that place. I loved that class! It motivates me to create inspiring classes of my own.

How about you? What are some examples of favorite in-zone classes that you have taken or been a part of?

1 comment:

  1. Not sure why part of this post went into caps...I would appreciate any suggestions.


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