Kids Speak Out on Engagement!

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Cristiano Betta:

This Edutopia post represents one teacher’s quest to better understand what engages her students. She surveyed 220 eighth-graders and noted that all of the responses fell under 10 categories, including working with peers, working with technology, connecting the real world to class work, and clearly love what you do.


“A while back, I was asked, “What engages students?” Sure, I could respond, sharing anecdotes about what I believed to be engaging, but I thought it would be so much better to lob that question to my own eighth graders. The responses I received from all 220 of them seemed to fall under 10 categories, representing reoccurring themes that appeared again and again. So, from the mouths of babes, here are my students’ answers to the question: “What engages students?”

1. Working with their peers

“Middle-school students are growing learners who require and want interaction with other people to fully attain their potential.”

“Teens find it most interesting and exciting when there is a little bit of talking involved. Discussions help clear the tense atmosphere in a classroom and allow students to participate in their own learning.”

2. Working with technology

“I believe that when students participate in “learning by doing” it helps them focus more. Technology helps them to do that. Students will always be extremely excited when using technology.”

“We have entered a digital age of video, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and they [have] become more of a daily thing for teens and students. When we use tech, it engages me more and lets me understand the concept more clearly.” …

You can read all of Heather Wolper-Gawron‘s excellent post here.


Globally-Minded, Student-Driven & Authentic

Below are 5 clips from the COETAIL final project files (you can see more from the YouTube playlist here) that provide strong examples of units and classrooms that are globally-minded, student-driven and authentic.

Emily Roth, Grade 4 Blogging Project:

Julie Bredy, Grade 7 Humanities (Search, Infographics, & Google Earth)

Leslie Davison, Grade 9 Spanish (Communication, Global Awareness, & Connections)

Tabitha Johnson, Grade 2 (Power of Choice, iPad Apps)

Jessica Faivre, Grade 10 Language Arts

10 Things Your Students Need From You


One of Teachthought’s latest post serves as a good reminder of student perspective on their needs for success.

“As educators, we have a huge responsibility towards each child entrusted to us.

It is our duty to try our best to meet the needs of the students in our classroom and to help them become productive members of our communities. Sometimes we need to step out of our ‘teacher shoes’ and step into the shoes of a student to help us better understand them, since they are not always very adept at verbalizing their thoughts. Here are ten things you would learn from their point of view.”  Read more here.

Walking in their shoes makes all the difference!

Photo Credit: Môsieur J. [version 9.1] via Compfight cc

Grant Wiggins has long been an advocate of hearing / seeing from students’ perspectives. During a UbD training with him a few years ago he brought in local students for participants to interview. That small sample of honest insight from a student was powerful for the group.

He recently had a guest post by a teacher who shadowed a student for a couple of days and was shocked by what she learned. As of last week the post had been read over 500,000 times!

“I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!” Continue reading the post here.