Given the emphasis placed on levels of academic achievement in schools, the way in which students acquire knowledge through the learning process has become a subject of primary concern. Research has shown us that there are several factors that play a significant role in learning; placing particular emphasis on student engagement. This research defines student engagement and describes various methods used to measure it, both in empirical research studies and at the classroom level.
Accountable talk and Constructive Engagement - this term is the driving force behind the reading and speaking standards. Students talk; however, they need to be taught how to participate in this type of ‘talk’. Children must be shown how to cultivate a climate of debate, questioning and multiple interpretations. They must think about how to disagree with each other in ways that allow the other person to hear what is being said and to build on the discussions.
When we think about classroom instruction, and the major subjects taught to our children; we rarely think about how to get kids talking about their learning; however, it is through this process that students construct meaning. If we want children to reach the speaking and listening standards (which “bridge” success to all of the 21st learning standards), we as educators must teach them how to talk, debate, collaborate, defend and critique.
Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning; however, not all talk sustains learning. For classroom talk to promote learning it must be accountable to the learning community, to accurate and appropriate knowledge, and to rigorous thinking. Accountable Talk seriously responds to and further develops what others in the group have said. It puts forth and demands knowledge that is accurate and relevant to the issue under discussion. Accountable Talk uses evidence appropriate to the discipline, (ex. proof in math, data from investigations in science, textual detains in literature, or documentary sources in social studies), and follows established norms of good reasoning. There is Rigor in quality Accountable Talk. There is NO rigor in passive listening. Teachers should intentionally create the forms and skills of Accountable Talk in their classrooms.
“Children who are engaged show sustained behavioral involvement in learning activities accompanied by a positive emotional tone. They select tasks at the border of their competencies, initiate action when given the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning tasks; they show generally positive emotions during ongoing action, including enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, and interest.” (e.g., Mathewson, 1994; Wigfield, 1997)
The opposite of engagement is apathy; disenfranchised children are passive, do not put forth effort and give up easily in the face of challenges. They have little stamina and do not persist at tasks. They are often bored, depressed, anxious, or even angry about their presence in the classroom; they can be withdrawn from learning opportunities or even rebellious towards teachers and classmates.
If you want to engage students, you have to work at it. You must structure time and systems so students are able to collaborate and then you have to listen, really listen, to become the facilitator they need in order to create success.
Sharon Haddy, Consultant
With 30+ years as an educator under her belt, Sharon Haddy is able to speak from experience in her sessions and educators recognize that. Professional development with Sharon won’t be just sit-and-get. She is able to model all of the instructional changes giving people the experience as their getting the knowledge. Sharon is not just a trainer. She is a partner in change for teachers and administrators. Throughout her career, Sharon focused on underperforming students, fascinated by the reasons children weren’t making it in public education. Sharon goes into every district and school with the same belief: All kids can learn and can take responsibility for their learning to become involved and engaged in their education. The students that continue to contact Sharon after all these years are a testament to the impact she has had in education.
Everywhere you look you see articles, speeches, and vision statements speaking about a need to prepare our young people to be “College and/or Career Ready”. Few argue the one main ingredient necessary to ensure readiness is the ability to think critically. Some call it rigor, complexity, deep learning, Depth of Knowledge, or higher-order thinking. Whatever term you prefer, it’s still about leading students to connect their content, curriculum, and/or their learning to a higher level of cognitive demand. That does not happen by accident but through careful planning and delivery of instruction led by a trained teacher. Unfortunately, many assessments, both formative and summative, have been slow to move to that level of the “ask” thus many of our classrooms are still engaging students at the lower end of complexity to align to how they will be tested. So how do we change that? A simple solution is to provide intentional structures, support, and expectations so that every school and districts will focus on “Rigorous Instruction” as a main function and feature of daily interaction in every classroom. Some schools may need targeted training on what that should look like as an instructional leader while others may just need some focused coaching and tweaking of their current practice. Where ever you are in the learning curve of implementing deeper and higher level thinking opportunities and experiences in your classrooms and schools, it’s time to ensure this is one ingredient that is part of the recipe. Standards require it, instruction must provide it, assessments will ask for it, and ultimately students must possess it. What will our work force in America look like in the next 5-10 years if this one thing is found in every classroom? I look forward to finding that out. Come join me!
Larry Hahn, President
With over 30+ years working side-by-side with educators as a teacher, principal, CEO of an ED-TECH and Professional Development company and now President of Leadership Infusion, Larry focuses on continuing to provide high quality professional development services that help schools and districts implement successful teaching, learning and leadership strategies to deepen the impact of student learning. His high energy Keynote addresses bring inspiration and validation to education audiences across the country.
A great deal of research has been conducted around 1:1 computing. For the most part, the results have been disappointing at best. From what I have read there are several key misconceptions:
The emphasis was placed on the technology (management, distribution, security, type of device, etc.) not on improving student achievement. It was assumed that the technology was the answer – the more you buy, the better the test results.
Teachers could be taught the technical aspects of using the computer and the software and they would then have all of the skills needed to drive high level use of the technology.
Once teachers understood how to use computers, they would naturally change instructional practice, acquire needed resources, and “be creative.”
Computers would improve student discipline, engage students at higher levels of thinking, level the playing field among SES, ELL, SPED, etc., groups of students.
Administrators could adjust their practices, processes, and procedures to take full advantage of the technology to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the curriculum and student progress. They could also judge the effectiveness of the 1:1 implementation, would know what a highly effective classroom looks like, and could provide support and guidance to the staff.
Those in charge believe that if their district has more computers than the one next door, their district will somehow be better.
What I believe:Laptops are expensive typewriters, and relying on the Internet for most (or all) of one's research is risky. Without significant support for ongoing teacher professional learning and coaching, the cost-benefit ratio of one-to-one computing rarely is justified.
School leadership is a critical element in any educational endeavor, particularly if it requires reallocation of resources, changes in teacher practice, and increased emphasis on student learning with the assistance of technology. From district to site-based administrators, leaders must be committed to the change process and willing to provide long-term dedication to that process. This will require administrative professional development independent of teacher professional development and in conjunction with teacher professional learning opportunities. This must happen over time: years, not months.It’s impossible to overstate the power of each and every teacher in the success and/or failure of 1:1 computing. Teachers must make massive investments in time and effort to adapt their teaching materials and practices to make the 1:1 environment effective and relevant. This will require a professional development plan that meets teachers where they are and moves them along an established learning continuum with the goal of institutionalizing the process to ensure sustainability.
Professional learning and ongoing coaching are the keys to the success of any program that, at its heart, requires teachers to alter their instructional practice; which is exactly what successful 1:1 computing programs demand. This is not accomplished by sporadic, non-connected, large group training but through a long-term methodical plan focused on measurable changes in teacher practices, student engagement and achievement, and student/teacher research skills.
A blended approach is a key aspect of a successful implementation plan. Professional development must apply a connected learning approach; providing ongoing professional development that is goal oriented and requires teachers to put into practice concepts, processes, and content after each professional development session.
It will be important to take a systems approach and create a unique plan of action with each district and to some extent, schools within a district. Any professional leaning plan must take into consideration each organization's goals, culture, and parallel initiatives. Once these are understood, it will be possible to develop services and content tailored to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Michael Rush, Consultant
Mr. Rush’s career spans over forty years, teachings grades four through twelve in the areas of Social Studies, mathematics, and Language Arts. He received his Masters degree from Ball State University and conducted advanced degree work at Purdue University in curriculum and Instruction. Mr. Rush worked as a consultant for the Indiana Department of Education in the area of Innovative Education and the U.S. Department of Education, evaluating projects seeking dissemination grants. For two years Mr. Rush was a consultant for the Children’s Television Workshop supporting the development and promotion of educational programs. In 1994, Mr. Rush wrote and received his first of three grants from the National Science Foundation. Mr. Rush served as the director of the Institute for Science and Technology from 1994 through 1999. Mr. Rush was also the President of INTEC Consulting, Inc. an educational consulting company that provided high levels of support to schools, districts, and departments of education throughout the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. Mr. Rush served as Vice President of Professional Development and as Vice President for Product Development for Collaborative Learning.