Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement
Publication Year: 2018
Use these 10 strategies to teach and communicate content that sticks! Students learn best when collaborating, talking, and working with their peers. That’s what Edutopia blogger and education expert Heather Wolpert-Gawron discovered when she surveyed students nationwide. Now you can hear from the students themselves and discover 10 comprehensive and fresh ideas on precisely what and how to capture your students’ imagination and minds for deep learning, everyday. This research-based approach to cooperative learning provides plentiful lesson ideas, vignettes, videos, and insightful student interviews to help you: • Understand the research base for collaborative learning • Implement and manage competitively cooperative student work group • Incorporate movement, visual tools, and technology • Develop achievement-based PBL projects • Conduct your own student survey for increased student ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Let Us Work Together
- Chapter 2: Make Learning More Visual and Utilize Technology
- Chapter 3: Connect What We Learn to the Real World
- Chapter 4: Let Us Move Around
- Chapter 5: Give Us Choices
- Chapter 6: Show Us You’re Human Too
- Chapter 7: Help Us Create Something With What We’ve Learned
- Chapter 8: Teach Us Something New in a New Way
- Chapter 9: Mix Things Up
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Praise for Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement
Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement is an outstanding resource manual for teachers to increase student engagement. Each chapter includes extensive quotes from students that support researched-based best practices. Diagrams and photos of student work illustrate how students can effectively work together and use more visually stimulating methods to connect their learning to real-world applications.Mary Ann Burke, EdD, Author, Trainer, and Co-FounderGenerational Parenting Blog at GenParenting.comSan Jose, CA
Heather Wolpert-Gawron meshes her teaching experience with extensive student feedback to offer sage advice and a clear argument as to the importance of increased student engagement within their learning environments. She provides practical application that will help teachers everywhere up their game in providing students the right foundation for deeper connections to their learning.Janelle McLaughlin, Educational ConsultantInnovative Education SolutionsManchester, IN
Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement is not only a quality read but also a fresh perspective beyond just providing interesting lessons. It clearly states that student engagement is directly connected to academic content and outcomes.Julie Frederick, Nationally Board Certified Kindergarten TeacherBroadview Thomson K–8Seattle WA[Page ii]
Any teacher who ever wanted to poll students about what works best for them when learning, and then really use that data to help students, should read this book. The research behind WHY the ideas presented work, and the practical strategies suggested, are also great bonuses.Patrick Pergola, 7th Grade Science TeacherSparta Middle SchoolSparta, NJ
To Addie Holsing
For decades, you engaged students. Then you moved on and mentored teachers like me. May you now be engaging the angels themselves.
My first experience with asking students what they thought of my teaching happened quite by accident. I was in my beginning years of teaching fifth grade and was frustrated that the students were not engaged. In fact, they were so distracted that I couldn’t hear myself teach! So I loudly asked, “Well, what do you think I should be doing?” Silence. They couldn’t believe I asked them. Then they authentically shared what I could do to engage them and how I could be a better teacher. I never looked back. I continually sought out ways to find out what my students thought. I used informal surveys, tickets to leave, and even had students draw pictures of me teaching so I could see what I looked like in the classroom.
Later in my career as a teacher educator I discovered that novice teachers were still facing the same challenges. In one of our class discussions a teacher shared that he had a student who changed her math grade from an F to an A! We wanted to know how this teacher had helped the student succeed in school. We decided to ask Jennifer, the high school student, and record her responses. My first video, Teachers Make a Difference, was produced and shared in all of our teacher education courses. I was hooked!
We continued our research, asking students, “What is an effective teacher?” and “What advice would you give beginning teachers?” We created online surveys, designed protocols for novice teachers and mentors to talk about the data, and produced a series of student perspectives videos. We learned [Page xii]that students had opinions about how their teachers could teach them more effectively. We also learned that novice teachers wanted to change their practices so their students could succeed.
What was missing in my journey into student perspectives was specific ways the novices could actually “engage” their students. That is why I am so excited about this book, Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out On Student Engagement. Heather Wolpert-Gawron is an experienced practicing teacher. She has done her research, collected student voices from across the nation, and tested the practices in her own classroom. She includes a Student Engagement Survey in the introduction to help you get started with these ideas in your own classrooms right now.
If the goal is to help our students learn and be successful in school, then we need to listen to them. We need to pay attention to what they need, not what we think they need.
Heather has brilliantly captured the essence of students’ perspectives in each chapter. She has learned that students want to
- work together,
- have their teachers be more visual and to use technology,
- know “why” they are learning,
- move around in the classroom,
- have choices,
- experience their teachers as human,
- create using what they know,
- participate with new ways of learning, and
- learn using a variety of methods.
These specific topics come from the students’ voices and Heather organizes them into separate chapters that include samples and many choices for engaging our students. What I love most about this book is that all these creative ideas are in one place, and the format is easy to read, making it useful for busy teachers.
I agree with what Heather says at the end of the book:
Without engagement, your students cannot absorb your content. Without engagement, your students will not be willing to go through the steps of the learning process. Without engagement, your students will not be on your side, and you are a vital ally in their development.
[Page xiii]Most of my current work relates to transforming education for students by supporting novice teachers and their mentors. Mentoring relationships invite us to be open to another person’s perspective. They require us to listen and be nonjudgmental. The students who are the heart of this book are our mentors. They are helping us to grow and improve our teaching methods. We just have to listen.
I wish I had this book when I was teaching in my very first classroom and when I was preparing teacher candidates. I do know I will recommend it to the mentors and novice teachers in my current mentoring courses. We all want to see our students change their grades from an F to an A like Jennifer did.
Heather’s experience, enthusiasm, and creativity offer us a way to make a difference in our interactions with students. That is why Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out On Student Engagement is such an important book for all teachers. Thank you, Heather, for sharing students’ voices with us so we can all learn from their wisdom.
Carol Radford, EdD
Founder and CEO, MentoringinAction.com
Author, Mentoring in Action: Guiding Sharing and Reflecting With Novice Teachers and
The First Years Matter: Becoming an Effective Teacher[Page xiv]
Many thanks to all of the engaging teachers who contributed to this book. You are teachers that students remember. I believe that if every adult in this generation had been assigned to your classrooms as children, school would be remembered only with joy. Thanks in particular to Susie Aames, Jason Trapp, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Trevor Hershberger, Liz Harrington, Jim Bentley, Diane Tom, Michael Corso, Rich Lehrer, Eric Hoenigmann, and Jennifer Trapp. Many thanks also to my own network of teachers that supports me every day: my beloved Writing Project and the educators from the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia.org. Deep thanks to my own school district, San Gabriel Unified, to Jefferson Middle School, and in particular to my principal, Matt Arnold, who supports student engagement as if it were a core subject itself. Finally, many thanks to the amazing teachers and their students who contributed to the Student Engagement Survey. Your responses made this book possible.
Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:
- Betty Brandenburg, Consultant/Retired Educator
- Department of Defense Education Activity
- Fort Knox, KY
- Donna Eurich, Middle School ELA Advanced IB[Page xvi]
- St. Ann Catholic School
- West Palm Beach, FL
- Julie Frederick, Nationally Board Certified Kindergarten Teacher
- Broadview Thomson K–8
- Seattle, WA
- Lisa Graham, Director, Special Education
- Berkeley Unified School District
- Berkeley, CA
- Maria Langworthy, Senior Program Officer
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Seattle, WA
- Jan McClaren, Educator
- Claremore High School
- Claremore, OK
- Janelle McLaughlin, Educational Consultant
- Innovative Education Solutions
- North Manchester, IN
- Lyneille Meza, Director of Data and Assessment
- Denton Independent School District
- Denton, TX
- Patrick Pergola, Seventh-Grade Science Teacher
- Sparta Middle School
- Sparta, NJ
- Ernie Rambo, Teacher
- Walter Johnson Jr. High School
- Las Vegas, NV
- Tim Tharrington, Sixth-Grade English Teacher
- Wakefield Middle School
- Raleigh, NC
- Leonard J. Villanueva, Elementary School Teacher
- Palisades Elementary School
- Pearl City, HI
About the Author
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