Now let's focus on the three more ways in which the teachers at Auburn Day School engage students in learning.
Offer opportunities for personal response
Make sure there are clear and modeled expectations
Provide a sense of audience
Offer Opportunities for Personal Response
I think the key word here is personal. We know that teachers aren't the only ones with good ideas. Auburn Day School provides curricular experiences throughout the day that invite learners to bring their own background knowledge, interests, and ideas to the lesson.
We allow students to choose how they will show what they know (e.g., writing, drawing, speaking, etc.) and often let them select the context in which a concept is explored (e.g., selection of a habitat, type of materials, simple machine, or variables for an independent experiment) so they can personalize their responses to meet their background, interests, or expertise.
Have you ever heard the expression, “the one who’s doing the talking is doing the learning?” Auburn Day School is a loud and busy place. Discussing, debating, questioning… ahh- these are the sounds of learning. The teachers at Auburn Day School are facilitators of this learning. In this video, a 3-year-old student tells about the parts of the caterpillar he created out of Picasso tiles and then he practices counting the legs. Amazing work!
Make Sure There Are Clear and Modeled Expectations
Does the learner have a clear understanding of what success looks like? This engagement strategy refers to making the intention for the lesson clear and making sure students know what it means to be successful with a specific activity.
After practicing two and three color patterns with puff balls and tiles, the students work together with the teacher to create a pattern using four colors! It's a challenge but they are successful. It's exciting to hear students call out the answers as they begin to see the pattern. After this activity the students go on to build more patterns individually and as a group.
Create a Sense of Audience
We provide opportunities for students to share with one another as well as the teacher. If more students have a chance to share, they have more opportunities to be heard and the teacher is better able to assess understanding from more students. Sometimes it's difficult for young children to share their opinions and ideas with one another. But we're happy to give them lots of practice through partnering to discuss solutions and working on team projects. We want students to share their suggestions, additions, critiques, and long stories about what happened one time when they saw a spider... All of these things are important: they help the child make connections, feel understood, and, most of all, feel important. Sense of audience can be established by cooperative learning or group work where individual members have specific roles. Other examples include larger projects that contribute to the local, school, or classroom community. Activities at Auburn Day School are designed not to keep students busy or kill time, but to help them wrestle with big questions, gain new knowledge and skills and/or make connections to their world. In these photos, the children are completing a team activity where each child chooses an object and then uses that object to create his/her individual part of one cohesive group story. To be successful, the children have to listen to one another in order to continue the story. Needless to say, the children were able to work together to use a cow, a snake and a train to create a funny, silly tale.
In 8 ways to increase the engagement in your classroom, John Almarode writes that engagement requires monitoring students’ emotional engagement (how a student feels about a lesson and in the classroom), cognitive engagement (what a student is thinking about), and behavioral engagement (how a student interacts with an activity).
So how does Auburn Day School increase engagement for students? Emphasizing specific characteristics in curriculum and instruction can engage learners in the lesson and sustain engagement to give students the best opportunity for gaining new knowledge, understanding, and skills. In 17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong (2015) Antonetti and Garver studied eight features of classroom tasks, activities and strategies associated with sustained engagement:
This post will focus on how teachers at Auburn Day School use the first three characteristics to engage students in learning.
In the photos below, the children are making their own egg shakers. After experimenting with creating different sounds from the same instrument, the children choose which materials they want to use to create egg shakers that produce different sounds.
We can't wait to begin our journey together at Alabama's only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Preschool! Parents may sign up for drop-in classes beginning October 2019.
Thank you for your interest in Auburn Day School, Alabama’s only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Preschool offering hands-on, concept-based curriculum for children 8 months- 5 years and STEM Camps for preschool and elementary students here in Auburn. This blog has been created to keep you informed and give you a more in-depth look at the WHY and HOW behind Auburn Day School's teaching philosophy, curriculum, and instruction.
This week, we’ll look at how students engage in learning. In 8 Ways to Increase the Engagement in Your Classroom, John Almarode writes, “there are three types of engagement: emotional engagement, cognitive engagement, and behavioral engagement (Appleton, Christenson, & Furlong, 2008; Marks, 2000; Reschly, Huebner, Appleton, & Antaramian, 2008; Skinner, Kinderman, & Furrer, 2009). Within a given classroom, on any given day, the levels of engagement for each individual student fluctuate across these three types.”
At Auburn Day School, teachers look for behavioral markers of emotional, cognitive and behavioral engagement. Focus, eye contact, rich discussion, 'on task' talk, appropriate questions, and the ability to make connections between the task and other activities or ideas are some of the signs of student engagement we look for.
Emotional Engagement - How students feel is the link to how they think.
This type of engagement relates to how the student feels both in general and about the learning. For example, the learner feels emotionally safe in the classroom. The learner is vested in the content, lesson, or activity. He or she has bought into what is happening in the classroom and thus feels some connection to the learning. At Auburn Day School, we know that all people should feel respected, appreciated, and safe to think outside the box, to make mistakes, and to confidently try new things. Below are some photos of students learning at Auburn Day School. Each photo shows students who are emotionally engaged in the lesson being taught and who feel confident and emotionally secure as they learn.
Emotional Engagement at Auburn Day School
The second type of student engagement you want to look for in the classroom is Cognitive Engagement. This type of engagement relates to what the learner is thinking about in the classroom and it heavily depends on the specific strategy, task, or activity developed by the teacher. Ideally, the learner is thinking about the content, lesson, or activity and not something outside of the classroom.
At Auburn Day School, there are lots of engaging activities: a giant lego wall, a glass art wall, tables to explore liquids, a loft and metal wall for experimenting with energy and design, and countless games and materials. Although there is always time to explore, Auburn Day School lessons are purposeful and facilitated to help students gain understanding and build specific knowledge and skills. Lessons are designed to be hands-on and active to help direct students’ attention to the specific activity rather than allowing a constant free exploration of the space.
Cognitive Engagement at Auburn Day School
This type of engagement refers to the actions of the student. What is the student doing? This is the most observable type of engagement. For example, the learner is completing the task or activity in the way it was designed by the teacher compared to a student that is off task. If a student is not engaging with the lesson, it's time for teachers to reevaluate the lesson to make sure it's appropriate for the students and to make sure that the students received clear and modeled expectations so they can be successful.
Behavioral Engagement at Auburn Day School
Auburn Day School is currently on track to open in January 2020. This fall, parents may sign up for our drop-in classes and STEM Camps for January, February and March. If you have any questions, please email Katie Murrah at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can't wait to begin our adventures!