Getting students involved in the classroom is crucial – perhaps today more than ever. Classroom sizes seem to be ballooning in many districts as a result of budget cuts and teachers need to make sure that each student is keeping up, or risk a deepening of the education gap that exists between student achievement scores. I came across a recent blog at Getting Smart titled Four Ways to Get Your Students Involved in the Classroom that listed four ideas to improve student involvement.
1. Utilize technology and current trend toward mobile devices to engage students with online educational tools.
2. Incorporate hands-on learning where possible.
3. Give students more responsibility to empower them toward their own learning.
4. Let students be problem-solvers by having them research and discover on their own.
All these ideas are good ones, and all work to involve and engage the entire classroom in learning. Research has shown that increasing student engagement improves student learning. In fact, in 1990, Skinner, Wellborn, and Connell (What it takes to do well in school and whether I’ve got it: A process model of perceived control and children’s engagement and achievement in school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82 (1), 22–32. ) investigated the relationships between children’s perceived control, student engagement, and academic achievement. The engagement, defined as participation and emotional tone, of 200 elementary students was assessed by their teachers. Path analyses were performed to examine the model of teacher behavior, perceived control, engagement, and academic outcomes. The predicted relations between engagement and grades/achievement (higher engagement leads to higher academic performance) were obtained.
Another way to involve students is by using formative assessment strategies that essentially eliminate hand-raising. Whole-student response systems – one of the foundations of successful formative assessment – provide the teacher with evidence that each student is learning what they are teaching, while engaging the entire class. If a student is used to simply not raising their hand as a means of “tuning out” they are likely not actively participating in learning. Remove the means of tuning out by employing formative assessment and many teachers find their classroom comes alive.
Read some of our previous blogs on formative assessment strategies and ideas and find one that works for your classroom. You’ll quickly discover how you need to adjust your teaching day-to-day, while creating a more engaged class.