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Increasing Student Engagement Via High-Quality Teaching Practices

Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this blog post by Dr. Nancy Sulla, author of Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom.

Teacher evaluation is shifting to include the use of a rubric to define high-quality teaching practice. This article will focus on Charlotte Danielson’s rubric, although the various rubrics in use are very similar in approach.

All teachers want to be considered “Distinguished” or “Highly Effective”—the fourth column of the rubrics. Interestingly enough for this author of a book named Students Taking Charge, the shift from the third column to the fourth column is largely focused on student responsibility and engagement in the learning process itself.

Let’s consider a few characteristics of the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom:

  • Students engage in a 3-5 week problem-based learning unit that drives curriculum coverage.
  • Students function as members of a “home group” for scheduling time and assisting one another.
  • Students choose from a variety of learning activities to achieve their curricular goals.
  • Students schedule how they will use their time during class.
  • Students obtain instructional materials and resources from a “resource table.”
  • Students assess their progress with a rubric.
  • Students opt to attend small-group, mini-lessons with the teacher as one option for learning skills.
  • Students register with the teacher as “peer experts” in various skill areas.
  • Students use the “help board” to indicate instructional needs and recommend small-group, mini-lesson topics.
  • Teachers and students utilize ongoing formative assessment to track progress.
  • Teachers facilitate learning, conversing with students individually and in small groups.
  • Students use a two-pocket folder with “work completed” and “work in progress” that teachers review outside of class.
  • Students complete “table journals” to assess progress in collaboration, time management, and behavior.
  • Students use a “Great Student Rubric” to monitor work habits and behavior.

Now, let’s map indicators from the fourth column of the Danielson rubric to the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom:

  • Students contribute to extending the content and help explain concepts to their classmates (3a).
    —peer experts
  • Students formulate many questions, initiative topics, and make unsolicited contributions (3b).
    —help board and conversations during teacher facilitation
  • There is evidence of some student initiation of inquiry and of student contribution to the exploration of important content (3c).
    —help board and conversations during teacher facilitation
  • Students may have some choice in how they complete tasks and may serve as resources for one another (3c).
    —students scheduling their time, opting in to activities, and serving as peer experts
  • Students appear to be aware of, and there is some evidence that they have contributed to, the assessment criteria (3d).
    —rubric development; ongoing formative assessment, student comments in two-pocket folder
  • Students self-assess and monitor their progress (3d).
    —rubric use, ongoing formative assessment, scheduling decisions
  • Students contribute to the management of instructional groups, transitions, and the handling of materials and supplies (2c).
    —home groups; student scheduling; small-group, mini-lesson signups; resource table
  • Students take an active role in monitoring their own behavior and that of other students against standards of conduct (2d).
    —table journal, Great Student Rubric
  • Instructional groups are varied appropriately with some opportunity for student choice (1e).
    —student choice of activities; student signup for small-group, mini-lessons
  • The approach to using formative assessment is well designed and includes student as well as teacher use of the assessment information (1f).
    —two-pocket folders, self-assessment using rubric

If you want to achieve at the highest level of the teacher evaluation rubrics, consider reading Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom.


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