How Do Students Engage?

Some months ago, I attended a conference where I picked up the book, Engaging Adolescent Learners A Guide for Content-Area Teachers by Releah Cossett Lent. What I didn’t pay attention to was who wrote the foreward. I found this exciting piece of information when I returned home and began reading. The foreword was written by the esteemed Brian Cambourne.

Dr. Brian Cambourne developed and tested the theory known as Cambourne’s Conditions for Learning. What excited me was the fact that this theory was alive within my own classroom. Before I could even deliver a lesson, I had to think of the seven conditions and the evidence each one showed. Here are some of the questions I would ask myself.

1. Immersion – What have I posted that will support my students learning beyond the lesson?
2. Demonstration – How has my metacognition provided my students with a way to become a patient problem solver, as Dan Meyer so eloquently states.
3. Expectation – What are my expectations for my students? Do I have preconceived notions of what they can and cannot learn?
4. Use – Am I allowing my students to use what they know through meaningful practice? Or am I jumping in to quickly giving the answers?
5. Responsibility – What choices should I provide that will scaffold student learning and teach in the whole context in order to make connections that further higher levels of thinking?
6. Approximation – Is my environment risk-free with room for imperfection? After all imperfections are where the deepest learning takes place.
7. Response – Is my feedback timely, specific, positive, and encouraging? Does my response focus on what the learner can learn next?

So the question for you is…how are you promoting student engagement in every lesson, every day?