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Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind

Engaging-Students-Poverty- Brain Based In this galvanizing follow-up to the best-selling Teaching with Poverty in Mind, Eric Jensen digs deeper into engagement as the key factor in the academic success of economically disadvantaged students. Drawing from research, experience, and real school success stories, Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind reveals:

  • Smart, purposeful engagement strategies that all teachers can use to expand students’ cognitive capacity, increase motivation and effort, and build deep, enduring understanding of content.
  • The (until-now) unwritten rules for engagement that are essential for increasing student achievement.
  • How automating engagement in the classroom can help teachers use instructional time more effectively and empower students to take ownership of their learning.
  • Steps you can take to create an exciting yet realistic implementation plan.

Too many of our most vulnerable students are tuning out and dropping out because of our failure to engage them. It’s time to set the bar higher. Until we make school the best part of every student’s day, we will struggle with attendance, achievement, and graduation rates.

This timely resource will help you take immediate action to revitalize and enrich your practice so that all your students may thrive in school and beyond. In Eric’s latest book, he shares student engagement strategies that are strongly tied to socioeconomic status. Learn the seven factors that are crucial to engaging disadvantaged students: health and nutrition, vocabulary, effort and energy, mind-set, cognitive capacity, relationships, and stress level. To address those factors, Jensen provides actions and solutions you can use in every day practice to:

  • Cultivate a high-energy and positive classroom climate that fosters success every day.
  • Build your students’ capacity to focus their attention, think critically, process content, and recall it from memory.
  • Create greater excitement that spurs student motivation and effort.
  • Develop students’ deep, sustained understanding of content.

The strategies in this book will empower you to automate student engagement efforts in your classroom and school so more struggling students succeed. You can get it at Amazon by clicking here.

Summer Teacher Workshops – The Deadline is Sunday, April 15th

Workshop EarlyBird Special

The clock is ticking. Poverty is not going away, testing is not going away and accountability is not going away.

Our summer sessions are filling up fast. Right now, the location with the most openings (so far) is Jacksonville, Florida. Book your staff for Jacksonville (or San Antonio and Charlotte) as soon as possible. In Jacksonville we are offering “Teaching with Poverty in Mind” or “Tools for Engagement”, but you’ll have to move fast.

WorkshopThe early bird discount expires on April 15… so don’t miss it!

May I suggest “Tools for Maximum Engagement”… CLICK HERE.

When I talk about student engagement, teacher’s heads typically nod up and down as if they universally agree how critical it is. Yet, when I go visit classes (elementary, secondary or college level) the actual % of students being engaged is typically low.

Listen, I can’t make you take a program. But I can tell you that once you take this summer’s special 2-Day “Tools for Maximum Engagement” workshop, you’ll have a lifetime of tools.

Every day, you’ll feel proud, knowing how well your students have learned. Each week, you’ll see happy students who enjoy the learning process. You’ll be admired by your peers and your students will look forward to every class. On top of that, your test scores will improve because kids who are engaged daily, learn more. Plus, every night, you’ll sleep well, knowing that your class is pretty awesome.

I never know if I’ll EVER do any particular workshop again or not. This summer could be your last chance, ever. Whether your school will pay for it or not, go do it. You can’t afford to be less than amazing in your job.

To find out more about this amazing 2-day summer experience CLICK HERE.

By the way, sometimes it makes better sense to have me come out to school and work with the entire staff. You may want to browse the menu of my presentation possibilities for your school CLICK HERE. I’ll show your staff exactly how to teach with the brain in mind.

Student Engagement Tips: Student Interaction

Transparent Teaching.

You present a key point, using an overhead as a
 prompt for yourself. Now it’s the student’s turn to put it in his or her own words. 
You can number sentences, so that each student takes the odd ones. You can
 also color-code them so one takes those in blue and the other takes those in red. 
Everyone stand, mix up to find a partner. On cue, one person translates the
 sentence into their own words, creating meaning for themselves and maybe 
others. This is a good way to ensure that everyone understands the material.

Voting With Their Body.

This strategy is a kinesthetic affirmation based on
 others taking an action to respond by doing something with their body.

As an
 example, first ask your students to stand up. Ask them to vote with their body. 
Say, “If you believe this is true, go to that side of the room. If you disagree, go to
 this side of the room.” Then, they might do an activity such as a pair share.

Before they go sit down, you might say, “Now take in a slow deep breath and 
hold it…good. Now let it out. If you feel more confident, have a seat.

Or, “If
 you’re ready to learn something new, please have a seat.

Filling “Holes”.

Good for students using a notebook 
or those with any collection of pages with notes.

Each student finds the
 weakest page (one he or she’d like more info on) from his or her workbook
 from the last unit or learning segment. They open that up and leave it 
exposed.

This activity works best with a “set-up” beforehand. Talk to the students
 about learning from others and the fact that we all value other’s opinions and that
 no one can know everything. Remind students in advance, that his is a chance to
“give ideas and get ideas,” and it’s not the time for rude comments or love letters.

Students stand up and walk around the room (use music for this one). Make it 
mandatory that they stop and write on at least one open notebook page. Give
 students about 3 minutes and keep them focused. Once students have returned 
to their seats, you can evaluate how many actually did get comments. If they are
 seated in a cooperative learning group, you can also have students pass their
 notebooks or the pieces of paper to solicit comments. Then they can share with 
their team what they learned from the comments.

Be sure to check out our summer workshop on Tools For Maximum Engagement here. It’s filling fast and is one of our more powerful teacher workshops.

Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Student Engagement Tips: Getting Students Started

Anticipatory traditions.

Doing something once is okay, but creating a 
positive, predictable and practical tool repeated enough to be called a ritual is
 even better.

Many are as simple as raising your hand and asking others to 
raise their hand once they see your hand is up. This simply means you want 
the group’s attention.

When others see that other’s hands are up, they too 
raise their hand. Soon, they entire group has their hand up and the room is
 quiet.

Also: 1) You clap once, then say, “If you can hear me, clap twice.”
Then you clap twice and say, “If you can hear me clap three times.” Then
 you clap three times and say, “If you can hear me, clap four times.” Then you
 clap four times. By this time, all your audience will be clapping with you and
 ready for you to jump in and start talking with complete attention.

Comeback Response.

These are strategies that are used the moment the 
group is back from: 1) yesterday’s class 2) the previous class 3) a break 4)
 lunch.

Almost any tool, vehicle or group response activity can be used if it is:
 a) short, b) solves the “return to seats” problem, c) ends in a positive state,
 d) engages everyone.

An example would be if, when the group’s back, you said, “If you made it back on
time, raise your hand and say, ‘Yes!’ Now, turn to your nearest neighbor and say, 
‘Welcome back!’”

This aligns the group, reorients them to you and their social
 structure and quiets them for a couple of seconds. Naturally, you’ll need to jump
in right after that moment and begin the class before the noise starts up again.

Inhale Slowly.

Breath is affects us powerfully. Stretching helps engagement.

Taking in a deep breath is often a precursor to taking on a challenge or knowing
 something is coming up. You might say, “Let’s pause for a minute. Take in a slow
 deep breath… inhale, inhale and hold it. Now, slowly release it out. Very good.
 Now, one more time. Breathe in slowly, as if you’re taking in a divine gift. A
 little more… very good. Now, hold it ….and slowly exhale as if you’re
 releasing all the stress of the day.”

After the breath, there’s a pause in
anticipation of the next thing.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Thomas Hawk

Student Engagement Tips: Getting Students Physically Engaged

Demonstrate with the Body.

Say, “We’re going to do something very
 interesting in just a moment. But first, please stand up.” This raises heart rate 
and arousal states.

Ask your audience to take in a deep breath and let it out
 slowly. Now you, a group leader or assigned person can lead a team, group or
those at a small table in some slow stretching.

Now, take a math problem and ask students to use their hands and body to act 
out the numbers. Use the body to demonstrate connections, links, relationships 
and key ideas. Your body can make a number, a movement or a show a plant,
rock, mineral, cloud or river. They can show prefixes, suffixes or periods (stomp).

Who is Doing the Work?

Any time you have materials to get to the students, 
get lazy. Under 90% or more of the circumstances, your students should be
 passing out papers, materials, handouts or any other item.

Organize this through 1) the team leader 2) a volunteer 3) assigned in-class delivery students 4) a
 quick vote 5) form small impromptu groups, then ask those in them to pick the
“fastest runner” or other fun designation.

In other words, if you want more
 engagement, stop doing the student’s work for them.

Peer Drawings.

They can stand up and use their elbows to draw out a key
word for the lesson. Spell out or they can use their head, knee or toes. This gets
 the epinephrine up!

There are other types of drawings. For example, keep a bag, bowl with some or
 all of the student names on cards or paper slips. The students do a drum roll on
 their tables for added suspense. At a point during each class let one student
 come up to the container and draw out two student names. One of the
 names gets a standing ovation (pure fun!) and the other gets to answer two 
questions from the group and they get one “lifeline” (ask another student, or they
 can look it up on the spot.). The peer pressure is both fun and stressful! If both
 answered correctly, then win a silly prize or favor.

Creative Commons License photo credit: jackdoc101

Student Engagement Tips: Music As A Tool

Music for Call-backs.

A musical deadline can create anticipation. Use a
 set-up song; otherwise known as a cue-signal or “call-back” song to get 
attention for a beginning or start time. This song should have the following
 criteria:

1) it’s short—under 3 minutes

2) it’s has either positive lyrics or no
lyrics,

3) it ends with a clear predictable “pa-dum” and does not trail off,
 fading slowly into the quiet.

Songs like “Pretty Woman” or “Chantilly Lace” can work. Make an agreement that
 everyone must be in their seats, ready to learn before the song ends. Then 
enforce it by walking around the first few times you play it and “rounding up”
everyone so they know you mean it.

Walking Fast to the Music.

Use this as a tool for “mixing” up the
 group. Sometimes a class forms too-familiar “social niches.” This means
 accountability drops because your audience becomes TOO familiar with each 
other. They stick up for and cover for each other, dropping accountability for
 thinking and learning. What’s needed is a vehicle for mixing up the group.

Music can do that because people can “lose themselves” in the music. 
It works this way. Say, “It’s time for a change of pace. Take in a deep breath…
and let it out. Great. Now, please stand up. In 10 seconds, the music will
 begin. When it does, walk away from your chair. You can go anywhere in the
 room quickly until the music stops, then wait for directions.” The directions are 
usually, “Find a neighbor. Hand up if you need a partner. Now, here’s
 who goes first…”

You might do a think-pair-share activity next.

We hope you find these strategies valuable. Please join is at our summer workshop on Tools For Maximum Engagement here. It’s filling fast and is one of our more powerful teacher workshops.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Horia Varlan

Student Engagement Tips: Getting Attention

Better Attentional Sets.

Create some anticipation for students or yourself before speaking. Use a train whistle, gong or party noisemaker. It just has to be fun, short and consistent. Rotate each week to avoid habituation by your students.

Or, whenever someone is ready to speak to your group or class, he or she will use a pre-established activity. Any established call-response can work. As an example, the speaker, before saying a word, will stand up, clap three times and wait. The audience responds with 3 claps and sends, with their hands, a big “whoosh” of positive energy their way. This back and forth exchange tells the audience the teacher is ready to speak, and the audience tells he or she that they are giving both attention and support.

Start-up Call-Response.

These are the auditory-kinesthetic routines that you set up with the class as a way to prepare to learn. It can help get the whole group aligned and put all in a common, excited state of “I can!” Before class, first prepare an overhead or write the call-response on a whiteboard or chalkboard, divided into two columns. One column on the left has the “call” and the right column has the “response.” Ask the whole group to stand and take in a deep breath. Then tell the group that you’ll do the call, they do the response.

Examples include: You say, “Who’s here today?” They respond, “I’m here!” They do this both by sound and by adding the same beat of a foot stomp. You say, “Here for what?” They stomp and say, “To learn and have fun!” You say, “When do we start?” They stomp and say, “Right now!” You say, “How do we start?” They stomp and say, “Work hard, Learn smart!” This simple routine is best done quickly, with high-energy the first time by you so you can role model it.

Join is at our summer workshop on Tools For Maximum Engagement here. It’s filling fast and is one of our more powerful teacher workshops.


Creative Commons License photo credit: untitledprojects

Student Engagement Tips to Try

Each week we’ll publish tips on Sunday to hep jump start and stimulate your classroom. The tips will also demonstrate how simple engagement strategies can pay big dividends in the classroom…

Stop reading information to students.

Give them a role. Every day, multiple students can have the roles of morning announcements, previews of coming attractions or reviewing key points from the day. When they do the reviewing, other students can repeat after them to boost recall.

Instead of you reading it, condense it into a short paragraph. Then show the information, followed by a simple question. For quick recall, use a multiple choice. For more in-depth processing, use open ended Qs. Our frontal lobes release dopamine when we complete challenging problems. It’s nature’s way of
rewarding us for doing well. Plus, the dopamine that is released will then support tasks that require working memory.

Repetitive gross motor movement.

You may have noticed that when you go for a walk, it’s hard to return in a bad mood. Activities that stimulate repetitive gross motor movement include swimming, walking, cycling and marching. In general, it takes from three to ten minutes to get the dopamine going, depending on a host of variables. If students need a “pick-me-up” send them out on a ten-minute walk with a structured positive conversation. They’ll return in better state of mind. Add music to the student’s marching time. Great marching music includes: Anchors away or the Triumphal March (Verdi).

Look on Your Neighbor’s Paper

Many of the tools of engagement are, rightfully so, tools for increased accountability. This one is simple, “Look on to your neighbors paper. If they wrote down all three points we just mentioned, congratulate them and raise your hand.” Or, “Look on to your neighbor’s paper. If they have less than the last three items we’ve just reviewed, tell them what their missing ones are.”

Also, check out our summer workshop on Tools For Maximum Engagement here. It’s filling fast and is one of our more powerful teacher workshops.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Martin Tod

An Educational Staff Development Plan To Optimize Teacher Time

Effectively Making an Educational Staff Development Plan Optimizes Teacher Time.

In-Service Learning Should Be about Reforms and Improvements to Teaching.

Making an educational staff development plan is not always easy. There is a lot of competition for teachers’ time and, from a classroom standpoint, every day is precious.

The chief purpose of making an educational staff development plan is to promote reform in the classroom and in education in general. Any reform requires teachers to center on changes to their own practice of teaching for better results. Any reform that increases student engagement, enhances retaining or critical information, and allows for higher academic achievement should go at the top of the list for material to use in staff development plans.

We can safely say that teachers are far more likely to modify their everyday instructional practices (which is a huge key) when their professional development is linked directly to their daily experiences and aligned with standards and assessments.

In other words, tie in what you are offering with what your staff already does every day. This way there is an immediate tie-in and teachers can see the connection. Additionally, the staff developer should role-model every strategy and give teachers a moment to practice it in small groups.

Staff Development is a Requirement

Making an educational staff development plan is required for teacher recertification and licensing in all states. That requires teachers to spend a considerable amount of time in on-going development, in-service training, or post-graduate credits. There is so much to learn, but because the need to attend in-service development sometimes outweighs the effort to gain meaningful knowledge to use in the classroom, many teachers spend many hours learning how to use a digital camera, a GPS device, or other pedestrian subjects rather than filling the hours with solid, meaningful reforms to apply in the classroom.

Jensen Learning Can Help

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