10 Ways to Increase Student Engagement

Veteran and new teachers alike recognize the fact that if their students are not engaged and fully participating in the learning process then it is highly unlikely that they will comprehend what is being taught and demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives for the lesson. Engaging every student has been a perennial challenge for educators. However, research in this area has revealed much about how teachers can design learning experiences that interest students and maintain their engagement.

This substantive engagement in the learning process drives them to become invested in evaluating and reflecting upon their academic growth.  Students need to be engaged in rigorous assignments and mentally committed to their assignments.  Lessons must move beyond rote learning and superficial understanding to the development of higher order thinking skills and application of knowledge to new and novel situations.

10 Ways to Increase Student Engagement:

  1. Create an emotionally safe classroom
    Emotionally safe classroom settings encourage respectful interactions where children feel they can express themselves without fear.  Failure is a normal part of the learning curve and does not mean that a child who experiences it is actually a failure.  Children who feel that they are in an emotionally safe classroom feel free to explore, debate,

How to Improve Concentration and Focus: 7 Tips

I’ve written about a range of habits related to learning, but one I have not yet covered is concentration – perhaps because I find it among the hardest of habits to truly master.

I’m as apt as anybody to have my working memory hijacked by the temptations of multi-tasking,

….or simply to become distracted by the shiny new learning objects that I encounter on a daily basis,

…or to start writing about one thing and find myself wandering to other topics as new thoughts occur to me,

…or….uh, right – concentration. Here are some of the approaches to it that I find helpful:

1. Be conscious and intentional

I keep coming back to “consciousness” as the cornerstone of most effective learning habits. Before you are likely to be successful at concentrating you have to make a clear, conscious decision to focus your attention. Sounds simple enough, but more often than not we move from one experience to the next without any real consciousness, and certainly without a decision to concentrate.

2. Set clear goals – and victories

I’ve lamented my own lack of goal setting before. To concentrate effectively, it really helps to have specific outcomes in mind.  Break down longer term goals – like mastering a new

Rounding up pre-K kids, parents

Inviting parents and pre-kindergartners to meet teachers and see their schools six months before school opens can noticeably reduce first-day jitters — for everyone. Called kindergarten round-ups, these events also let teachers meet their incoming charges. Included: Tips for staging a kindergarten round-up.

At first mention, a kindergarten round-up sounds like an all-hands effort to corral children at a recess gone awry.

In fact, round-ups are an increasingly popular orientation program for pre-kindergarteners and their parents. The events bring families to school to see classrooms, meet teachers, and experience a kindergarten day. Most schools hold the events in late April or early May.

“We see it as a win-win situation,” said Dr. Robert Kreifels, executive director of school administration for the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas. “The sooner you can start the transition process, the better it is for everyone. This lets everyone know, wherever they will be, they will be okay. Children — and parents — are much less anxious.”

Reaching out early

Whether round-ups last a whole day or a few hours, they can go a long way toward helping children and parents prepare for the start of school. The Portland (Oregon) Public Schools have had some

Three Big Ideas for Addressing Preschool Language and Literacy Learning

Focusing on oral language, reading aloud, and language play puts young children on the track to literacy.

The challenges of preschool are growing. To help us meet those challenges, especially in the world of language and literacy learning, we can turn to such trusted voices as Dr. Catherine Snow of Harvard University. She reminds us that the best way to grow language and literacy skills in young children is through “activities that are integrated across different developmental areas.” Focusing on the following three essentials, instead of structured sit down lessons, flashcard drills, and worksheets, will keep you (and your children) on the right track.


Begin with a foundation of oral language development. Conversations are a powerhouse for learning. Carefully guided, conversations can impact children’s vocabulary, help them learn patience and empathy, and progress toward unlocking the alphabetic code. They can expand thinking and knowledge. Conversation stimulates core brain cells, which later become a foundation for the more complex connections needed to read.

  • Carve out time each day for interesting, extended conversations using lots of different (and complex) words. Carefully place objects in centers to spark such discussions.
  • Use talk to help young children explore and understand their world. Encourage the inquisitive.

Strategies to Improve Classroom Behavior and Academic Outcomes

Taking measures to improve academic performance and outcome starts with improving the behavior of students in the classroom. Although it can seem challenging, teachers play a large role in creating an environment that encourages learning, improve student behavior and create better academic performance at every level of education. Teachers can accomplish amazing feats when the appropriate strategies are implemented to improve the behavior in the classroom.

Relationship between behavior and academic performance

The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, a teaching and training organization for professional educators, cites numerous studies on its website that suggest students with poor classroom behavior often struggle with academic skills.

Behavior academic outcomes refer to the changes that student actions can have on the ability to maintain good performance in the classroom. As behavior academic outcomes relate to negative situations and poor actions by students, the classroom environment becomes less positive and teachers can struggle to provide the best education to the entire class. Positive changes to the behavior of students can improve the academic outcomes at any grade level.

Offering rewards

When it comes to motivational strategies that can help students maintain better behavior, offering rewards is a useful tool. According to SuccessfulSchools.org, teachers can impact student motivation and make improvements

Jumpstart Charges Kids Up for Learning!

After Aaron Lieberman spent a summer break as a camp counselor, he returned to his studies at Yale University with a desire to provide individual attention for at-risk preschool students. With the help of others, he founded Jumpstart, an organization that matches college students and youngsters in one-to-one sessions that help the kids charge up for learning. The Jumpstart mission is “to engage young people in service to work toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed.” Since its inception, Jumpstart has served more than 8,000 children. Included: Assessments that show the program is working plus comments from participants in the program!

“Jumpstart’s greatest accomplishment is that we’ve engaged nearly 2,000 college students in one-to-one service to more than 8,000 children over the past seven years,” Aaron Lieberman tells Education World. “As we’ve grown from a local program serving 15 children in our first year to a national program serving 2,500 children this year, Jumpstart has not only maintained but also improved the quality of the program to achieve higher impact and proven results.”

Lieberman is the president and CEO of Jumpstart, a volunteer program that matches college students with preschoolers who need their time. Founded by

Top 10 Ways to Improve Student Achievement and Create Learners

Top 10 Ways to Improve Student Achievement and Create Learners Disclaimer: This is by no means all that schools should be doing. Note that these are broad actions; there are many more detailed actions that need to be taken.

1. Share a Vision — Review your school’s Mission Statement. Your new vision should be tied to your district’s Mission Statement, but build up on it. The vision should describe why it is important to achieve your mission statement while looking to the future. It should portray what will be achieved if the school is successful in achieving its goals. Everyone should be invested in the vision with a total buy-in from the entire school. You have to keep your eye on the prize and never veer from your vision.

2. Your School Should Be a Change Agent — Change agents are passionate and driven about their vision. They make the tough decisions keeping what’s best for the students in focus. When complaints about change and improvement come rolling in, and they will, pay close attention to your leadership and their decisions. If the leaders of a district do not want to upset the teachers or parents by moving forward, then your district’s