Learning Center

ASK SMEKENS

How do you make reading fun?

When teaching reading, it’s important to not only educate but also entertain. In fact, an “edu-tainment” approach to teaching offers opportunities to increase engagement throughout the instructional process.

Turn & Talk

Our delivery and presentation of strategies needs to include engagement for the students. Expecting kids to “sit and get” during whole-class instruction doesn’t motivate them to learn. They need opportunities to interact with the skill you’re teaching by speaking and moving.

For example, prompting students to Turn & Talk during whole-class instruction is an easy engagement strategy that is focused and efficient. In as little as 10 seconds, students can collaborate with a nearby classmate to orally try the skills being taught.

Every Student Responds

The larger and more diverse your classroom, the more challenging it can be to engage every student during whole-class instruction. There are always those who want to engage, and those who want to hide.

An effective way to address this issue and foster engagement from the entire class is with “Every-Student-Responses” (ESRs). With this strategy, the teacher uses a variety of techniques to prompt the entire class to respond at the same time. Depending on the topic or skill, this could include hand signals known as “talk moves” or holding up individual “answer” cards. The beauty of ESRs is that they keep all students on their toes, engaged and learning.

Active Instruction

It stands to reason that we need to get kids up and moving during instruction. After all, even eager adults lose focus after sitting for extended periods of time. We can enhance learning when instruction is active and students have the opportunity to get up and move around the classroom.

Movement goes beyond a “brain break.” Incorporate the new thinking you are teaching with the movement—this helps students better grasp the content. Walk & Talk and Timed Mingle all offer short bursts of physical movement that keep students mentally engaged with the skill.

Background Knowledge

The beginning of the unit can sometimes feel boring for students as there is so much background knowledge teachers need to front load. Rather than pouring new content into students and risk losing their attention, allow students to take more ownership of the process. When kids are afforded the opportunity to build their own background knowledge by doing their own research, they are more invested in the learning. And this doesn’t mean a “research project” or having kids just hop online. With texts/sources selected by the teacher, students can carousel around the room, gaining new information about an unfamiliar topic.

This type of quick online research is what students will use to build background knowledge for the rest of their lives.

Improve your instruction with engaging PD videos
June 02, 2015
[Writing]

Embrace the Monster Teacher Inside

August 13, 2018
[Reading]

Enhance Learning with Active Instruction

April 15, 2017
[Reading]

Engage Every Student with ESRs