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Student engagement

Classroom Management 


New Member
This is my second year teaching, but my first at this school. I am the Title 1 teacher so I work mostly with small groups of 2-4 students in reading and math. I recently had my second of two formal observations for my evaluation. The first observation, my superintendent observed me teaching a math lesson, and the observation went really well. The most recent observation he observed me teaching a reading lesson, and we both thought the lesson could have been better. The superintendent was concerned with lack of student engagement in the lesson, and that the same two students answered all of the questions, while the other two sat there letting their classmates answer. He suggested that I adopt some active engagement strategies making sure to give students multiple opportunities to respond. He said that he wants to come observe another lesson before the end of February, because he feels with using active engagement strategies the feedback will be more positive. What are some strategies that you use when working with small groups to actively engage students and provide student's with multiple opportunities to respond?


Senior Member
Random Name Sticks

Write kids' names on a popsicle stick. Put them in a cup and pick the next kid to answer. I think you can also find websites that do this which kids might like.

Or print kids names on a chart. Give a small prize to the kid that answers or volunteers the most. Or do one of those sticker charts!


Senior Member
Good ideas here

I used an app on the iPad - Randomizer. I entered each of my classes (7th grade). I'd tap to get the first name. Then that student would tap to select the next student. I was able to change things up by setting the app to only call on one student each lesson or keep them in the mix. When I used popsicle sticks, I would always have a couple of blank ones. If I saw a student nodding off or goofing around, I would pull his/her stick again (the blank one. Or I'd just pull a stick and return it to the mix. Otherwise, once the student's name was called, he/she would think they were done for the lesson.


Full Member
Partner/Discourse Activities/Stations

First thing, stations in math really helps students. It will give you more one on one time. The more structure you can embed, the more in tune the kids will be. Also turning the stations into a game really brings the kids in (getting their station worksheet checked or hole punched or get a sticker, whatever the incentive may be).

Structured "speed dating" allow students to work in pairs and rotate partners through each problem as well.


New Member
You could have the children use hand signals so that everyone is answering questions and not just a few students. Thumbs up/Thumbs down works for yes or no questions but different signals can mean other answers too, you'll just have to determine what those are with the students before you teach!


Senior Member
-Turn and talk, then pick one student to share from each pair

-Wait time! Let students know that you expect everybody to have an answer and you will give them a minute. Sometimes those quieter students just need more time.

-Popsicle sticks or index cards with student names on them. Flip them over to let the student's know whose turn it is to share.

Jen Jones just did a little video on her facebook that said those students that are always raising their hands are called "hogs" and the other students that just sit there are "logs." The logs get used to just sitting there knowing the hogs will take over. I would change this asap so when you get observed next they are already in the habit of speaking more.

Good luck! I got the same feedback on my most recent observation. So it's on my mind too.


New Member
Thank you

Thank you for all the great ideas! I have started using some of them with my groups of students. Since I have started using some of the strategies such as turn and talks and responding on whiteboards, I have noticed that my students have been more engaged. My superintendent came to observe me today, and he said that student engagement was much better!


Senior Member
Great list

You have had many great suggestions.
One thing I have tried is with turn and talk - when having partners share they must share what PARTNER said - holds them a bit more accountable when listening!

Good luck!


Senior Member
create a visual. . .

like an anchor chart or poster that displays these expectations visually. Use these ideas you received here and point to them for reminders. Years ago we had a professional poster made by our entire district titled " Active Engagement " for K -12 grades. It really helped.


Senior Member
Lots of turn and talks, white boards, using post it notes. I have sticks that I pull and then I simply call on the kids who aren't raising their hands BECAUSE they aren't raising their hands. I do it because I know they don't know what is going on and I want to show them how to do whatever it is were doing.

I have some very quiet kids in my groups. It can be hard.

Also fostering a classroom full of it being ok to make mistakes is important. I use tickets and will give students tickets just for trying. If you raise your hand and participate, even if it is wrong I will give you a ticket and praise you for trying (I work with many ED/BD kids.. so this is necessary). I also point out when I am wrong and when I make mistakes so kids know that it is okay to make mistakes. At this point my kids will say.. Mrs. S... it's okay EVERYONE makes mistakes..

Some other ideas I've used are..

- having all kids stand up and they can't sit down until they participate.

- giving kids coins for participating and then breaking them into groups and making it a competition to see who will participate and get the most coins first. (They love this one because it makes it into a game.)

- on Schoology I post discussion boards and project it.. everyone has to answer and then we go through it as a class.

- think-pair-share

-focus on asking questions related to your instructional objectives

- look - lean - whisper

- when a student can't answer a question.. instead of moving on or giving them the answer.. I follow up with another question to try and help them get to the answer (look on p. 3)..

- anticipate who will struggle and modify the questions I ask so they feel confident in asking a question and getting it right. I've noticed that many kids who don't participate .. will participate when they are given a question they know they can answer and it will be correct.

- tell everyone they HAVE to participate but let them know that it is okay to summarize what someone else has said. For my higher groups after we read I give them discussion guides and have them lead the discussions.

Do you prepare the questions you are going to ask and the answers in advance?

Good luck!!!!!!