Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Promoting Active Involvement in Today's Classroom

Conderman, G., Bresnahan, V., & Hedin, L. (2011). Promoting active involvement in today's classroom. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47 no 4, 174-180.

Annotation by Christine Ingmanson

This is a great article to support the enhancement of engagement within your classroom. We all fall victim to over talking within our class, and this article begins with a scary statistic that, "In a study of 13 high schools across the nation, researchers discovered that students spent one third of their time passively attending to information such as listening to lectures or viewing videos, which leaves little room for active engagement." (174) In a time that our classrooms are filled with extremely diverse children who vary in their academics, motivation, and attention it is vital that we provide as much active participation as possible.
This article offers concrete examples of engaging large, small and partner groupings. Many are classics that we have all participated in or have used in our classrooms, but something that should be highlighted is that "of 13 grouping and 62 instructional strategies identified as effective for struggling students, middle-school teachers reported using less than one-third of them with any regularity. " (175) I found that of all the models I use the unison response and think pair share the most often within my classroom.

This topic is interesting to me as I move forward with my current research question: How can I support all students in becoming active participants in peer discussions? I've been really challenging my kids to be active listeners with their peers, and have felt frustrated with the small minority of students that can remain engaged in a large group discussion or when students are presenting various writing or projects. I need to step back and reflect on my ultimate goal. If my goal is to give students a platform to share, why does it need to be with only 1 person or 1 group speaking at a time? I'm drawn back to our Chitty Chitty Bang Bang activity we had last class. Why not have small groups presenting to rotating groups for allocated amounts of time? This would take nerves away from students that are shy, and would actually allow more students opportunity to learn from their peers and in opposition, present to more peers. This would also solve my issue with my students tiny attention spans!

"Learning occurs as students integrate new knowledge with background knowledge and construct new or revised understanding based on external sources of information." (175)

"Active engagement occurs when students process information through talking, moving, writing,

manipulating, interacting, reading, discussing, and exploring their values and attitudes rather than just

watching and listening." (175)

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