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TXTS 4 Teachers

Filtering by Tag: Learner Engagement

How do you teach an introvert?

Ginger Topize

Do your students raise their hands excitedly to give responses?

Do your students work together or collaborate often?

If you answered yes to either one, you might be rewarding extroverts and forgetting about your introverts.

Susan Cain founded the Quiet Revolution and immediately went to work on changing classrooms. In a 2012 TED Talk she stated that educators "unconsciously reward extroverts who dive headfirst into discussions, sometimes without much forethought." Her work shows us how to measure engagement versus participation.

Here's some tips to support your introverts:

1) End hand raising practices.

2) Evaluate body language and "facial feedback"

3) End traditional Think-Pair-Share, go for Think-WRITE-Pair-Share

4) Learn how your students learn

5) Look for culture differences. In some cultures listening is prized more than speaking.

6) Engage one-on-one

7) Help students explore their preferences


Ready to learn more?

Read Teaching Introverted Students: How a "Quiet Revolution" is Changing Classroom Practice by Brenda Iasevoli.

Watch Susan Cain's TED Talk.

Visit the Quiet Revolution website which also includes tips for parents of introverts.





Three Tools That Facilitate Authentic Engagement

Laurie King

Teachers constantly nurture the relationship between motivation and engagement. Knowing how to design learning experiences using strategies that build learner self-direction and ownership of learning sets great teachers and great lessons apart. There are many tools that can support the facilitation of authentic engagement where students are not just compliant, but can see a connection between the assigned task and the results. The following three are just a few of them:

Padlet -

Padlet empowers collaboration across distances without much set up. Think of Padlet as an electronic Post-it note wall. The difference is, the Post-it notes can be text, images, and videos. Visit the website for an example of how two teachers in two different classrooms use Padlet to facilitate student-to-student interactions. 

Socrative -

Socrative enables students to use any internet-connected device with a web browser to become a student response system. Socrative empowers the teacher to receive real-time data about what students are thinking and understanding.

PowToon -

PowToon is an engaging, easy to use publishing tool. It allows students to tell animated stories quickly and easily without a lot of knowledge about video production.

No such thing as a "flop"

Marlys WeaverStoesz

We have all been there.  You have spent hours pouring over your standards, sifting through ideas and resources, to get 15 minutes into a lesson and realize your students aren’t, shall we say, impressed. Crickets are chirping.  Or, utter confusion ensues. What do you do?

Even the most seasoned veterans experience a “flop” every now and then.  Today, we provide three tips to turn the flop into an opportunity.

Acknowledge it.  Tell students you see they are confused or not engaged, and you are going to change gears a bit.

Determine what’s up.  Using the think-pair-share strategy or quick write, ask students to articulate what they are finding confusing or difficult.

Some quick open-ended questions are:

Tell me in your own words what you understand about the topic.

What are you finding confusing?

What do you think you need to help you understand?

3. Switch it up.   Instead of whole group, teacher-centered instruction that relies heavily on language, have students act out directions or allow them to perform a non-verbal representation of the concept, such as a drawing or play-dough sculpture.

Finally, and most importantly, use the feedback gained from students to reflect on what was the cause of the “flop,” how you put on your Super Teacher cape to save the day, and what you can do to prevent future flops.  Then take a deep breath, and know you’re not alone.

Academic Dialogue: Beyond the Basics

Marlys WeaverStoesz

The idea of structured, academic dialogue has received great attention in recent years.

This attention is well-deserved; Stanford University professor Dr. Jeff Zweirs provides clear justification for increasing academic dialogue as “the process of learning is actually a social venture, and interactions such as conversations (and specifically academic conversations) [help] students to enhance and broaden their comprehension of a specific topic profoundly and in a meaningful way” (Zweirs, 2014).  Yet, Dr. Zweirs’ research found most classroom academic conversations are dominated by teachers, robbing students of the rich opportunity to actively engage in a learning dialogue with their peers.  Armed with this knowledge, teachers have made a concerted effort to increase structured student-to-student conversations. As a result, students are now talking to each other much more often than in the past.

“Peanut butter and jelly partners” are probably familiar to most teachers, especially those teaching elementary-aged students.  It is an accessible strategy for creating “think-pair-share” partner groups to ensure equal participation and individual accountability.  The danger, however, is sometimes these sharing opportunities are merely a recitation of facts or lower-level comprehension.

Without a doubt, structures are a necessary foundation for academic conversations that foster deep and extended learning.  We are going to take this base even further this month as we share various resources to deepen teachers’ academic conversation toolkit.

To get us started, here are Dr. Zweirs’ “Think-Pair-Share Tips.”

In Think-Pair-Shares, students should:

Think about the possible responses and how best to say them in connected sentences (They can write them down, too, but shouldn’t read them when talking)

Interact face to face (face each other)

Take turns talking

Listen to remember, connect, and compare to what the partner says.

Give evidence from the book, discussions, or own life.

Ask clarifying questions to know more   (Do you mean that…? Why do you think that? Where does it say that? Did you get that from a random website? Tell me more about…)

Zweirs, J. (2014). Academic language literacy: tools & resources. Retrieved from and–resources.html