Adventures in Literacy Land: Student Engagement

Showing posts with label Student Engagement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Student Engagement. Show all posts

Greetings from Reading in Room 11

Hi!  My name is Jenn from Reading in Room 11 and I am thrilled to be joining The Adventures in Literacy Land.  Through this blog I hope to share some reading strategies for struggling readers as well as some quick and easy interventions.  I am about to start my 13th year of teaching as a K-5 Instructional Specialist in Reading, and 9 of those years were also spent as a Special Education teacher.

Teaching was not on my radar in any way, not even when I started college. As a kid, I always dreamed of being a veterinarian but when I realized I would have to give an animal a shot that was no longer a career path for me!   Through a random series of events I ended up as a 1:1 Aide for a student with special needs in a preschool and that was truly a life changing event.  From that moment on I knew that I had to be a Special Education teacher and so that is what I set out to do!  Along the way I also became an Instructional Specialist.

I have a quick teacher tip for you that is a fun way to keep students engaged in a whole/small group activity - Teacher vs. Students!  Groups ask to play this daily and it makes any activity much more fun. Spoiler Alert: the teacher never wins and that’s just how the kids like it!  Here are some ways that I use it with my groups:

Click to read more about Teacher vs. Students.  A quick teacher tip that is a fun way to keep students engaged in a whole/small group activity.

1. Phonological Awareness Warm Up

When we start each group we practice phonological awareness.  Each student takes a turn blending or segmenting a word and if they get it right their team gets a point - if they get it wrong I get the point.  Since this is a task that can be tricky I am always generous with the points!

2. Letter Sounds/Sight Words/High Frequency Words/Phonetically Regular Words/any name you have for words on flashcards

Same concept as #1 - if they get the word right they get a point and if they don’t I get the point.  Depending on the student, I often offer a hint or give them another chance to read the word.  I’m sure you are beginning to see why I never win, but that’s ok because the smiles on their faces when they get a point and I don't is worth it!


I’m sure that we have all encountered a reader that just blows through the text and butchers sentences without stopping if something doesn’t sound right or makes sense.  For this use of Teacher vs. Student each student in the reading group gets their own score card.  When I take turns listening to them read I give them a point if they stop when something doesn’t make sense and another point if they use a strategy to decode the word.  If I have to stop them to say they skipped a word/missed a word/read it incorrectly, I get the point.  The score is often a lot closer when we play this way, but it is a great way to get kids to slow down and think about what they are reading.

Game Over:

When the game is over the students are always happy with the win and sometimes that is enough!  Other times I let them get an extra sticker or let one of the students take the score card home.  Once in awhile I rip it up into hundreds of tiny pieces and throw it in the trash declaring that we will never play this silly game again because I never win!

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about me and how you can help engage and motivate your students with this simple game.  Can you think of another way to use this game?  Let me know in the comments!

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Click to read more about Teacher vs. Students.  A quick teacher tip that is a fun way to keep students engaged in a whole/small group activity.



Increasing Pupil Engagement

This was a tricky post to write as I wouldn't really consider myself to have any particular area of expertise! I have led literacy in my school before but currently lead math, I love teaching phonics but fins myself teaching more RE each week these days than anything else, I deliver a lot of staff training, but this is on a whole range of different topics - definitely not just literacy. 

So I looked back over the posts I have written for Adventures in Literacy Land over the last year and realised that pupil engagement strategies was a common thread...

Making Writing Special: one way I set up the classroom environment to engage and motivate writers.

Using Story Sacks: a way to help children get exited about and explore different aspects of stories.

Learning Grids: a great and easy strategy for making learning more hands on and fun!

Consensus Activity: engage children by developing speaking and listening and collaboration skills.

This year I am cover teaching one day a week for a particular class and I am struggling to hold their attention for any significant amount of time. I am not used to this! I'm finding it hard. I need to cut my teacher talk time down even more.

The jigsaw strategy for imparting information is nothing new. I've read about it, been told about it on courses, watched video clips even. But for some reason I've never really used it as a strategy in my classroom.

Last week we celebrated World Religion Day and I wanted to give the class time to explore some of the main religions represented in our school. There are lots of lovely PowerPoint presentations out there that I could have talked through but instead, I thought I would try out this strategy with the class.
I set children in home groups of 6 and paired them up with each pair assigned a different religion. Each pair of children was given time to explore the religion using the information sheets I provided and a laptop to read the always useful information pages on the Woodlands Junior site!

After a short time, I moved the children to form their expert groups - pairs of children from different home groups who had been researching the same religion. They got together and discussed what they had found. Pairs had discovered similar information but each also seemed to have something new to share that the others hadn't read yet or taken in.

I then asked these expert groups to create an interactive poster to share at the end of the afternoon.

I gave them access to some lovely interactive notebook templates by Meredith Anderson and off they went!

I deviated from the traditional jigsaw strategy in that I didn't have them report back and share their expert knowledge in home groups again but rather had them present to the whole class...

 And there you have it! Very little teacher talk, lots of learning and lots of pupil engagement!