teaching with the tools of a digital world

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Are you engaged?

Everyone who has ever stepped into a classroom (teacher, student, or otherwise) knows there is a difference between the amount of time that instruction is happening and learning is happening. This is very generally wrapped up into terms like “student engagement time.” In an earlier post I discussed my general goals to “increase student engagement through the use of technology.” I would like to add to that “both in and out of the classroom.”

Today, I am most interested in increasing student engagement in the classroom. I am currently reading Middle and Secondary Classroom Management: Lessons from Research and Practice by Carol Simon Weinstein and Ingrid Novodvorsky. Chapter 7, Making the Most of Classroom Time , discusses this topic and gives one suggestions I want to focus on, minimize transition time. There are a few ideas from this section that I would like to try and adapt for use with technology. Here they are…

The text discusses the four options students have when they are transitioning between activities 1) maintain interests and attentiveness, 2) become bored, 3) become distracted and 4) actively misbehave. Looks like some slim chances, huh?

How can technology help to keep students engaged as we switch between topics and/or activities? I am mostly looking for things that give me a little extra time to get done what I need to during the transition time and/or allow for students to complete activities at different times but still be engaged.

Here are my current ideas…

  • A lead-in or follow-up question on clickers or using Poll Everywhere.
  • Ask students to summarize the previous reading/assignment via Poll Everywhere or Twitter
  • Asking students watch a short video that highlights the next topic
  • Maybe part of this is just a time management issue and it could be helped with students being aware of the time schedule (maybe just a digital timer displayed to the whole class would be a big help?)

Maybe there are a lot of things here that can be completed without technology (I definitely think so..) but can technology make this easier in any places? Where and how? I am going to try out a few of these ideas and any that you might suggest and then reflect back here after a couple of weeks and see if there are any changes.