The Power of Engagement: Connecting Students, Families, and Learning

It is essential to provide students with disabilities “rigorous and relevant instruction to better engage students in learning and provide the skills needed to graduate and to serve them after they leave school” (Wilkins & Huckabee, 2014, p. 45). This statement, in turn, leads to the question: How do students want to be engaged in their learning? When a middle school teacher asked her eighth graders that question, one student responded, “I believe that it all boils down to relationships.  Not relationships from teacher to student or relationships from student to student, but rather relations between the text and the outside world” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Connecting the Real World,” para. 1).  Another student observed, “When a student is active they learn in a deeper way than sitting” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Get Me Out of My Seat!” para. 1).

In this issue of Link Lines, authors provide useful strategies to help educators actively engage students in their own learning.   Cooperative Learning Techniques for Active Student Engagement by Donni Davis-Perry, which is an excerpt from the Considerations Packet Techniques for Active Learning, provides easily implemented strategies for structuring cooperative group work in classrooms.

Elaine Gould’s article, Planning for an Effective Intervention Blocks, addresses the needs of students who require more support to engage successfully with content.  In particular, the article presents a framework to guide educators in planning, monitoring, and ensuring the effectiveness of an intervention block.

In What Educators Can Do to Foster Family Involvement, familylearning.pgDebbie Grosser offers tips for how to promote effective family involvement with student learning.  The article also provides links to resources that can help educators plan for increasing family involvement in their children’s learning.

Mary Murray Stowe’s article, Math Problem Solving and the Use of Generative Strategies, shows teachers how they can help students create meaningful connections with and solve math word problems.

Lastly, in Close Reading, Text Annotation, Text Dependent Questions, and Paired Passages – Oh My!, Cathy Buyrn illustrates how to integrate strategic reading skills into instruction that supports engaged reading. The article provides lesson examples and professional development resources that can assist with classroom implementation.

A student named Sharon summarized the issue of student engagement well, “The thing is, every student is engaged differently … but, that is okay. There is always a way to keep a student interested and lively, ready to embark on the journey of education” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Be Human,” para. 2).  This issue of Link Lines strives to provide a number of ways to develop engaged learners.

References

Wilkins, J., & Huckabee, S. (2014). A literature map of dropout prevention interventions for students with disabilities. Clemson, SC: Clemson University, National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities.

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2012, April 26).  Kids speak out on student engagement [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-stories-heather-wolpert-gawron