The Four Keys to Student Engagement

old-keys4By: Allison Zmuda and Robyn Jackson

This 90 minute webinar was designed with you in mind. Every educator wants to know how to get kids more excited, more motivated, more focused in their daily routines. As thought partners and friends, we tried to dig more deeply into the subject of engagement and how to unlock student potential through four keys:

Clarity. Context. Culture. Challenge. Click on the link: The Four Keys to Engagement to see each key and related questions. We then described what an engaged learner looked like as opposed to a compliant, dutiful learner. Click to see the 1 pager: Engaged or Compliant Learner 

Based on our ideas, we presented a session to over 400 educators two weeks ago discussing the “what” —secret to real student engagement...

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Shall We Play a Game?

By: Paul Wright

Shall…We… Play… a… Game?

So I just got done grading a 9th grade group project on my Xbox.  Yes, you read that sentence right: I just got done grading a project… on the Xbox…in my basement. I assigned my 9th grade Government students to take me on a “tour” of Articles I, II, and III of the US Constitution.  I suggested that they construct a building of sorts, say, a museum with wings dedicated to the three articles, and thus the three branches of government.  They needed to study them, discern what parts were more important to the formation and function of each branch, and then somehow represent those things with a visual metaphor for a presentation.

Truth is, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go...

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The Strange Reality of Engagement

Bi8g6JMCQAER-lwGuest Post By: Gerald Aungst

This post originally was posted on Gerald’s blog.

The reality of “student engagement” hit me square in the face yesterday as I sat in an ASCD presentation by Alison Zmuda and Robyn Jackson. In it, they shared their keys to engaging students in the classroom. During the session, I couldn’t help but compare with another workshop I attended recently on the same topic. (I will not name the presenters of the second one for reasons that will be clear shortly.)

There was much in common between the two workshops. Both had two presenters who co-​​taught together, using a tag-​​team approach. Both shared both concrete strategies and research about learning...

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The Secret to Real Student Engagement

Session Materials

How do you know if students are truly engaged in learning? This session takes engagement from a buzzword to a clear vision of what it looks like and how to get more of it. Allison Zmuda and Robyn Jackson will share the biggest mistake teachers and administrators make when looking for engagement. Discover through a series of highly interactive exercises what real engagement looks like in the classroom. Learn the three most important actions every teacher can take to increase student engagement.

ZmudaJackson slides

The Four Keys to Engagement

Interested in learning more? Sign up for the free webinar on March 27th at 4:00pm E.S.T.

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Meeting Students Where they Are. Virtually.


Thanks to @snbeach and the team at Powerful Learning Practice for the amazing infographic!

Guest Blog By: Crista Anderson

 There is something about a face to face connection, that makes it all real. I am a gamer. I am a connector. I am an innovator. When I am these things by myself, I go nowhere. When I am these things with my students; we go somewhere.

Consider Minecraft. Did you know …

  • That 14,533,141 people have bought the game (including the 8,727 just in the 24 hours prior to writing this post!).
  • From October 11, 2011 (Dated…but notable)
    • 241,920,000 logins per month
    • 1,000 logins per hour
    • 4000 logins per second after 1.0 launch
    • 2,000,000,000 files download by the launcher
    • 11,000 skin downloads (in game) per second

    These statistics blew my mind and are evidenc...

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Upgrading a Rubric based on Purpose and Audience

iStock_000014148495Medium-300x199-1Guest Post By: Eric Simpson

Two words permeated our three days with Lead21: purpose and audience.

Two words permeated our three days with Lead 21: purpose and audience. Heidi Hayes Jacobs opened the pre-conference with a 21st century definition of literacy: “A literate person knows the genre to choose to convey their purpose.”  We want to expand the way kids share ideas, and get their message in front of authentic audiences. Every session emphasized that 21st Century is not about the tools, but rather about upgrading the student learning. Allison Zmuda reminded us, “this is not instead of curriculum—it is your curriculum.” Janet Hale and Michael Fisher framed their charge to upgrade one unit of curriculum around authentic communication...

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A Reflection on TEDTalk21: Creating a dynamic and joyful environment

Golden light of evening over Torrey PinesGuest Post By: Craig Gastauer

Natural learning experiences are generated by observation and questioning.  As individuals share their different perspectives, each of us begin to make meaning of these experiences and deepen our understanding of the world.

Hiking on the cliffs above the the Pacific Ocean with my nine year old son creates for us a safe space to explore the world.  Questions abound as we come across animals, plants, rock strata, and even the wonderful variety of people we encounter.  And as a science teacher I may have an idea of much of what we come across, I hear from the nine year old perspective new questions and thoughts that may have never occurred to me.  There are no texts or assignments forcing students down a path that the teacher wants the student to focus...

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Teacher, Study Thyself?

self-reflectionBy Paul Wright

This entry is adapted from a speech I gave to the Radnor High School chapter of the National Honor Society at their annual induction.  While it was directed at high performing juniors and seniors, I hope it is also something that professionals, especially in a field often referred to as “a calling”, can take to heart.

Perhaps this crowd more than any other will permit a proud father to tell a quick story about one of his own children?   At Chestnutwold Elementary in Ardmore, they have an award named after a staff member who lost a battle with cancer a few years ago.  The Mary Borman Award is given to the 5th grader who best represents the kindness and spirit that Mary exhibited.  It’s basically a good citizenship award, voted on by the entire staff...

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Tell Me More


Guest Post by Kathleen Cushman

This post was originally shared on Deeper Learning and the author has given her permission to post it here.

This is a guest post from Kathleen Cushman of What Kids Can Do, whose most recent books are Fires in the Mind and its sequel, The Motivation Equation.

What do you do when students just don’t seem that interested in a subject, no matter how hard you try to draw them in?

I recently had an interesting discussion about that question with teachers on the Deeper Learning MOOC.  And it got me thinking back on all the times that I’ve sat down with students to draw them out on a subject . . . and felt like I had failed.

In researching the book Fires in the Mind, for What Kids Can Do, hundreds of youth around the country met with me to investigate the q...

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Making a Difference

By Zoe Zmuda

I am donating bracelets to make kids happy at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. Because if I have an emergency I would go to that hospital and my brother went there because he found out he had diabetes. Last time I made 40 bracelets but only regular in a straight line. This time I am making bows, ladder bracelets, and triple-single bracelets. The complicated bracelets are easier because of practice and I want to make them because they are much cooler than the regular ones.

How do you make a difference in the lives of other kids?

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