Monday, November 21, 2016

Student engagement doesn't just happen

Student engagement doesn't just happen. You have to plan for it. You have to design your lessons for it. I used to do a lot of powerpoints and worksheets. I would spend whole periods having the students take notes, or make flipbooks. This is just mindless copying. Their brain is not engaged.  Then I would have them practice over and over the same thing. I wondered why a third of my students failed the test. This is not engagement, this is monotony and boredom. Math should be fun and interesting, not a chore. I knew I could do better.
     It wasn't until I got 20 computers in my classroom and did a collaborative project, that I realized what true engagement was. I got so excited,I wanted to learn everything there was about blended learning. I booked a tech coach once a week to learn a new skill. I went to ED camps and talked to other teachers about what they were doing in their classrooms. I joined Twitter and began reading math teachers blogs that inspired me.Next, I started creating my own assignments. There's nothing more empowering them this. Yes, I still use the same tests that I'm required to give for the IM1 class ,but my lessons are so very different than they were before.
     Now when I plan a lesson, I think about” is this engaging? What will the students learn by doing this? How can students create something, or add something of their own to the project or assignment? What are the DOK levels? “ Note taking is DOK 0.
I can do better. I have a different mindset.
     Making videos for the students to watch with their headphones has increased student engagement, and increased test scores. They are much more engaged watching me teach on a video, and working collaboratively with their own peers; than they ever were listening to me drone on at the front of the room.
    Creating lesson plans has become fun. Making the lessons engaging for the students is exciting and fun for me also. Devoting time to this has become a joy instead of a chore.I love creating things and so do the students! Isn't this what we all want as teachers. Students engaged and learning makes everyone happy. Happy teacher, happy students, happy administrators, happy parents!

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