Friday, August 3, 2012

It's All About Engagement

                While reading Opening Minds, we thought a lot about the language we use in our classrooms.  We thought about applying the language to our work with students, especially to help students comprehend text on a deeper level.   After participating in our #CyberPD Twitter Chat, Johnston’s  tweets made us pause and ask ourselves, “Did we miss the big idea?”  It was the following tweet by Johnston that started us thinking:  “… I worry about focusing directly on language too much. Getting students engaged will change the way you talk with them.”

                This is more than a chicken v. egg debate.   This is linking the why to the how of effective classroom talk.

Johnston also tweeted, “ When children are engaged you follow their lead. You don't spend time in controlling talk.”  

                A sigh of relief.  Ahhh…maybe this will be more natural than we thought.  

If we didn’t get the big idea yet, we reviewed Johnston’s other tweets.  The theme of engagement became quite clear.  The following three quotes were tweets from Johnston during the #CyberPD Twitter Chat.

“When children are engaged, you don't need to ask comprehension questions - which would kill engagement.”

“Less instruction improves learning when students are engaged. They try to solve problems themselves & seek help when they need it.”

“Engaged students generate strategies and share them with others who need them. They notice and name and we can just reinforce it”

Amber asked @JohnstonzPeter (Johnston’s twitter handel):  Have you seen shifts by teachers to more effective talk? What do you think helps make the shift?   Johnston replied, “a shift in what they think they're doing, with whom.”  When asked to elaborate, Johnston tweeted, “Focusing on engagement. Realizing that students are constantly thinking and theorizing that errors are the result."

Our number one take away from #cyber PD could be summed up in three words:
Teach For Engagement

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