Student Engagement… Strategy #1
Regardless of the subject, brain research tells us we need many rehearsals (+20…yikes!) for new learning to stick! Learners rehearse learning when they are actually engaged in it. And, just to be clear… a worksheet with 20 math problems does not equal 20 rehearsals…( awwww, maaaan!) So, let’s consider the value of a jigsaw!
Here’s an example of a jigsaw in action! Students come into class and do a quick 7 minute journal write in response to the Essential Question you have been thinking about for 2 weeks, “How can the actions or inactions of one person impact another? Cite actual or factual examples that support your response. ” You are circulating the room, praising those who get started right away and checking in with students who need a quick and personal, “I’m glad you’re here today.” Rehearsal #1 ✔
Next, you pass out three short articles, each connecting to this EQ in a different way. One is about a basketball team that forfeits a game to take a stand against fans shouting racist remarks. Another is an essay written by a student who was a bystander in the presence of bullying. The last is a pair of conflicting editorials about the mortgage crisis. (Maybe you differentiated by student interest or reading level… because DI is natural for you!) Students are instructed to read the article first independently, marking up the text for challenging vocabulary, confusing or interesting ideas and connections. This will help them be better prepared to contribute to the small group conversation that will follow (Sniff sniff… is a that preparation for collaboration a 21Century Skill I smell?) They know that valuable group members come prepared with something to share. Rehearsal #2 ✔
Then students get into small groups with others who read the same article. (Thanks to your prior planning, student names were pre-written on the articles with color dots to help them find their groups.) In these groups, students are charged with discussing what they marked up, clarifying any confusion and completing one of three tasks. Rehearsal #3 ✔ You’ve given them choice, because that’s good for students’ brains too! Their tasks all ask them to summarize the reading’s connection to the EQ. They can do so in a $2.00 summary (10¢/ word- free punctuation), write a poem or create a symbolic representation… like a flag or icon. (More differentiation built right into that student choice? Way to go!!) Rehearsal #4 ✔
Next, students break out into different groups, bringing their summary, icon or poem with them (each student needed to be sure to record this on the back of their “marked up” article. During this opportunity for physical movement (bonus brain break!), they get into Expert Groups. Each member of the group read and discussed a different article. Now, the students share with their new group members what was discussed in their previous group and explain the summary work their group chose to do. While students explain their learning, they rehearse it… Rehearsal #5 ✔
While they listen to their peers and ask questions to enhance their own understanding of how this connects to the EQ they are rehearsing again (at least once)… Rehearsal #6 ✔
Back at their seats, student write a quick reflection answering the question, “Which article that you learned about from a peer best represents the actions or inaction of one having an impact on another person or group? Why?” Rehearsal #7 ✔
So, whether you’re planning for students to each solve 5 math problems today or answer 5 comprehension questions… how about trying this strategy where students dig in, explain their thinking to their peers and take responsibility for everyone’s learning?
How will you try this out this week? Let me know in the comments for a chance to be our TpT gift certificate winner!