Friday, April 17, 2015

Student Engagement

Happy, happy Friday y'all! This has been.a.week! Five, yes five, days of indoor recess! Need I say more?! Hallelujah, I've made it to the weekend and lived to blog about the journey! Ha!

I think we can all agree that student engagement is one of the MOST important components of a lesson. As much as I try, believe me I still fall short. As I continue to work towards creating lessons that are engaging for my students, I have realized that making a lesson engaging doesn't necessarily mean performing circus acts in your classroom on a daily basis. I kid, but really sometimes it's just about simple things like the way a lesson is delivered, providing opportunities for students to move around, allowing students time to interact with their peers, or adding one small element of surprise. For my students, the element of surprise/mystery gets them every time. 

For the past two weeks we've been working on developing a repertoire of strategies we can use when solving three-digit addition and subtraction problems. I felt that giving my students a variety of strategies that they can choose from and giving them multiple opportunities to practice these strategies would be beneficial for them. Now, where did the engagement piece come in? Well... I gave my kiddos their very own "Secret Agent" folder. In this folder they collected their "top secret" strategies for addition and subtraction. I had them convinced that they were the only second grade class learning these strategies and that the strategies were our special secrets. 

Here are snapshots of the strategies we used. You may call the strategies something different in your classroom.

I know there are so many different strategies that can be taught to help students with adding and subtracting three-digit numbers, but I chose to focus on the strategies that my students had the most success with when adding and subtracting two-digit numbers. As I modeled under the Doc-U-Cam, my students wrote these examples on their own paper in pencil. After I finished the lesson, I let them go back to trace over their pencil with marker. The different colors represent the different steps they take when solving the problem. I also allowed plenty of time for them to practice each strategy. They wrote on tables, worked in their journal, worked with partners, and worked independently. I try to mix it up to keep them engaged.

Again, we spent about two weeks on learning and practicing these strategies. That's about one strategy a day, plus time in between to practice. You can find the "Secret Agent" cover page and strategy sheet for free here.

How do you keep your kiddos engaged? I'd love to hear about any new tricks and ideas!


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