Sunday, January 31, 2016

Involving All Students in the Learning Process:)

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We are now halfway through the school year so how do we keep all of our students on track?  Though all benefit from being held accountable, not all do well here in this process.  What students struggle the most here-English language learners, those with special needs, and shy students. 

Setting up a learning environment for all to succeed or fully participate is not a daunting a task.  It only takes a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone and experiment a bit:).

Here are some links with descriptions to start with and remember that these are only suggestions.  Explore to see what works for you and have fun!

Ten Ways to Engage Students-
  1. Many of these approaches are not new, but at this time of the year, a refresher is always good to have on hand.  Cooperative learning when the groups are carefully planned is an outstanding tool to use.  In such small settings, every student has a voice as well as peer support in completing a task.  When the teacher plans the composition of the groups, they build support within it so that the students with needs have peers who are more proficient in English or who stronger in grasping the academic content will experience success in accomplishing the assigned task for the group.  With this setup, the teacher can assess the progress of all students easily within the class period since the teacher is dialoguing with 9 groups of 4 as opposed to 36 individual students.
  2. Visuals, visuals, visuals!  There can never be enough of them to assist students in making connections between new content and prior knowledge.  Those supports can be teacher generated or student (group products) generated.  For ELLs especially, those visual links provide access for the ELLs to the content material.
  3. Identify KEY vocabulary and reinforce it consistently throughout the lesson.  Those key words should be key content vocabulary and not every interesting word in the lesson.  If every new word is addressed, it will be overwhelming.

Engaging Students in Learning
  1. Inclusive Teaching—All students must believe that they can succeed in the class.  All students must be held accountable for learning.  Teachers must identify student prior knowledge and build on it.  Teachers should share their experiences in learning the content when they were in school.  Students enjoy hearing about those stories since these stories show that even their teachers struggled in school from time to time and found the tools to eventually master the content.
  2. Teaching With Technology—Students love technology so it is a must to include it in lessons.  Google Drive allows students to collaborate online in writing or creating presentations.  Each student in the group (keep it manageable at 4 per group) has a different color so a teacher (as well as the group) can quickly see who was working and who wasn’t.  Power Points can also be easily created here through Google Slides.  Teachers can maintain folders for each class and within each class folder can monitor individual student submissions.  One feature I really like here is that a teacher can insert comments to guide a student in making corrections.  NO MORE PAPER!

How to Keep Students Engaged in Class
  1. Let students all know that they should all be able to offer an answer to a question with multiple answers.  When students realize that they are more likely to be right than wrong, they are more likely to try.  If a teacher allows them to collaborate with a partner first, success is even greater.  Try a randomizer (or popsicle sticks) to randomly call on students.  This holds all students accountable.
  2. When giving instructions, students need to be quiet.  This may take some practice at first, but it is worth the effort so that the teacher does not have to repeat the instructions over and over.  Randomly calling on individuals to see how well the class understood the instructions. 
Have a great February (leap year)!

Denise, Marnie, Cheryl
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