Strategies to Enhance Students’ Engagement in the Classroom

Posted on Updated on

Engagement activities are contributory factors to a successful learning atmosphere. If properly implemented in the classroom, they increase students’ attention, motivate them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills and promote meaningful learning experiences.

Engagement activities can be supported by creating a toolbox that contains different strategies that make the lessons more alive and productive. These strategies are not only commonly used in the classroom but they are also research-based and their findings are significantly noticeable in the learning process.

These research-based strategies include the following:

  1. The Magic Wand. This engagement strategy provides evidence that are sufficiently active among students. Their comments become more sophisticated over time as more connections to ideas are made (Engle & Constant, 2002).

   Research and Teaching Hints

  • Repetition of ideas is observed. Students are cued to point out similarities in responses using appropriate language expressions.
  • Suggested prompts for the students: My idea is similar to/related to …My idea is build upon…


  • The teacher extends one arm and slowly moves across the classroom.
  • The teacher goes around the class allowing students to share ideas.

2. Think-Write –Pair Share. This strategy increases the quality of student responses and gives them time to reflect; information is stored in long-term memory (Mohs, 2009). This was developed by Lyman (1981) to encourage students’ classroom participation.

    Research and Teaching Hints

  • Writing down the student’s responses foster accountability.
  • Appropriate language expressions are encouraged between partners.
  • Suggested prompts for the students: My partner clarified that… mentioned that… We agreed on…


      Think:  Students are given quiet time to THINK about a response.

      Write :  Students WRITE the answer to the question independently.

      Pair   :  Students are cued to PAIR with a seatmate and discuss their responses, noting similarities and differences.

     Share:  After reflecting with a partner, students are invited to SHARE with the class.

Discussing the think-write-pair-share strategy
  1. Talking Chips. This strategy uses any kind of game token, an eraser, slip of paper or any other small tangible item. This was introduced by Kagan (1988).

    Research and Teaching Hints

  • Encourages the “blurters” to hold their tongues and the “laggers” to think ahead (Canine & Kammeenui, 2006)
  • Promotes equal participation among groups
  • Best implemented when there are multiple answers to a question and all learners can cooperate
  1. Ambassadors. This strategy expects everyone in the group to answer the questions following the discussion. The structure of ambassadors come from ‘Number Heads Together” and is derived from the work of Kagan (1989).

      Research and Teaching Hints

  • Inquiry is natural and continuous and leads to thoughtful and reflective exploration and ideas (Costa & Kalick, 2000).
  • Lower achievers gain confidence.
  • Students are more willing to take risks and share ideas.
  • Suggested prompts for the students: “We predicted a very different outcome; Our reaction was similar to…”


  • Teacher asks a series of questions, one at a time.
  • Students discuss possible answers to each questions with teammates for a specific amount of time depending on the complexity of a task.
  • Students “put their heads together” in order to solve the problem and ensure that everyone in the group can answer the question.
  • The teacher randomly calls students with the specific number to answer as Ambassador on behalf of their team.
  • Students are encouraged to acknowledge similarities and differences between their team’s response and that of other teams.
Brainstorming activity on how to go about the “Ambassador” strategy


5.Questioning the Author. This strategy encourages the students to interact with information and build meaning from the text by analyzing the author’s purpose in writing (Beck, McKeown, Hamilton & Kucan,1997)

    Guide questions

  • What is the author’s message?
  • What does the message mean?
  • How is the message connected to you as a reader?
  • Does the connection make sense to you?
  • Do you think the message is what the author tells us? Prove answer  from the text.


  • Teacher presents written content to the students.
  • Teacher allows students to use the guideline to Question the Author.

In implementing these strategies, students will take an active part in their own learning and their ideas are valued.

Note: The contribution of Dr. Belinda Dunnick Karge is acknowledged.

 By: Ms. Zaida Puyo

Grade 2 Level Head











Creating Dice Games as a Fun Way to do an Assessment

Posted on

One of the utmost rewards as an Early Years (EY) teacher is to see that all my plans come together. My EY1 students just finished their unit of inquiry summative assessment for term 2 on “How We Express Ourselves”. The central idea for this unit is “Through play, people learn, explore, and have fun”.

During the summative assessment, the students were asked to make their own dice and create their original ideas of playing with the dice. To my surprise, not only the students managed to perform the assessment successfully, but all of them came up with their own unique ideas. On top of that, they really enjoyed doing the tasks. The participation of the class was also enormous. Every child was actively involved in playing different games initiated by their peers.

Below are the steps that were essential to make this unit of inquiry assessment a “success” based on the 5 E’s Model of Learning:

  1. Engage. Introduce what a die is to the students so they know the name, characteristics, and the features of the object.
  2. Explore. Give various dice to the students and let the students play and manipulate them. Children are learning effectively by doing. Thus, it is important to allow them ample time to explore what the object is all about, ask questions, give comments, and play with it.
  3. Explain. Show the students different games that are using dice as object. Teacher can do different activities for this, such as:
  • Do show and tell. Ask the students to bring their own games from home that are using dice and share them in front of the class.
  • Use PowerPoint slides to show different games and various kind of dice and have a class discussion on them.
  • Provide real dice and board games in the classroom, explain the use of those learning materials to the students, and give them chances to play with them.
  1. Extend/Elaborate.
  • Teacher can paste letters, numbers, pictures, shapes, real objects on the dice surfaces and teach the students various concepts. Be creative and create your own dice games. Do lots of different games with the students. It will help them to get the idea on how to play with the dice.
  • Ask the students to create their own dice. Students can paint the dice and choose what they want to paste on it, such as numbers, letters, shapes, dots, symbols, and pictures. The students can also cut, color, and decorate what they have chosen to paste on their dice. (I noticed that my students enjoyed having their personal die and played with them many times after they finished making it.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

5.Evaluate. After all the dice are ready, the teacher can start the assessment tasks.

For their summative assessment, each student came in front of the class, showed his/her own die, described the color and what’s on it, told his/her classmates how to play with it, led the game and played with the whole class. These are some pictures on how they did the games:

Draw the same picture
Look for the same number
Make the animals’ sounds
Count the dots and stomp our feet
Find the same color
Find the same number

By: Ms. Geertruida Maya

Early Years 1 Teacher












Drip Painting

Posted on Updated on

The unit of inquiry, “How the World Works” is an interesting unit for grade 5. The central idea of this unit is “All actions and interactions involve forces, which follow scientific and universal rules”.  For this unit of inquiry, students created an action painting collage.

Students were introduced to the work of American painter Jackson Pollock. They watched a video of Jackson Pollock, who was a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. Jackson Pollock was well known for his unique style of drip painting, also known as action painting. In creating artwork, Jackson Pollock combined it with performing arts.

The formative task for this unit of inquiry was adopting Jackson Pollock’s style with student’s initial name.  Students had to cut the first letter of their name using 1/4 A4 paper as the template and attached it on their art book. Then, they splashed the cut-out of their first name with water colour. It was a great and enjoyable activity for the students as they removed the template out from the paper. This learning engagement took one week to finish.

We had our summative task, which took five weeks for the students to complete it.

Day 1

Students worked with a partner to create three different action paintings with various media. The art media included crayon, string, marbles, straw and sponge. Students were allowed to combine different kinds of art media. This action painting was used for the paper collage.

The students were full of smiles and enthusiastic energy in doing this learning engagement.  I gave them three pieces of Asturo paper for them to apply their action paintings.  It was a fun activity and students enjoyed it.

Days 2 & 3

After finishing their action paintings, it was time for the students to decide which animal they would like to create. This was an individual art project. Students only did the action painting with their partner, but the rest of it was individual artwork. After they decided which animal they would like to create, they were given 1 medium-size paper and 1 small-size paper. From those pieces of paper, they had to create an eye and nose/ beak. In creating the eye and nose/ beak, they learnt about balance (symmetrical balance).

They also had to fold the paper into two and draw half of eye shape and nose/ beak shape. After that, they cut it. They traced those templates (eye and nose/ beak) on paper and painted the outer lines/curve of eyes.

While waiting for their painting to dry, students started to paint the outer line of nose/ beak with black and continued by applying white acrylic paint and mixing it up with black and white paint to create the effect of the nose and leave it until it is dry.  Then, students needed to focus on the eyes. They coloured the eyes using crayon.  They had to apply gradation.

Day 4

After completing the eyes and nose/ beak, students cut all the action paintings for the collage. Students had to stick the paper neatly and properly.

Day 5

This was the last activity for the action painting collage. Students cut out the eyes and nose/beak and created details for the final touch. They used black acrylic paint for the details.

The final result was fantastic. Even the students were surprised with their own masterpiece. In the process, students needed to listen and follow instructions step by step. The process of doing the action painting was long, but it was worth it.

Here are some of our students with their artwork.

By: Irma Dwi Savitri

Visual Art teacher

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, Jakarta

Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals to Students

Posted on

Every year, we collaboratively review our school written curriculum based on the IB requirements. Reviewing the curriculum is related to Standard C2.9, which states that “the written curriculum is informed by current IB publications and is reviewed regularly to incorporate developments in the programme(s)”.

In doing the review this year, we made sure that the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are taught and addressed in our curriculum in addition to the IB Primary Years Programme and Indonesian national requirements.

The SDGs are “Global Goals” in which world leaders from 193 countries, including Indonesia, are committed to achieving by 2030.   The goals are inter-related and include eradicating poverty, hunger and inequality; taking action on climate change and the environment; improving access to health, education and clean water and sanitation; and building strong institutions and partnerships. Adopted in 2015, the SDGs are as follows:



Involved in our curriculum review were all our classroom and single-subject teachers as well as our co-teachers from early years and elementary. The outcome of our review revealed that all the 17 goals were already part of our early years and elementary written curriculum and we need to continue explicitly addressing them in our taught curriculum.

For the review, we identified the specific unit of inquiry linked to each goal. During our review, it was interesting that our physical education and dance teachers developed plans on how to teach the SDGs in their subjects across grade levels.

Teaching the SDGs to our students is connected to the IB mission statement of creating a “better and more peaceful world” and developing “internationally minded people”. It is  related to Standard C2.7, which states that “the written curriculum promotes student awareness of individual, local, national and world issues”. Likewise, it is linked to Standard C2.14b, which emphasizes that “teaching and learning empowers students to take self-initiated action as a result of the learning”.

Achieving the SDGs is not only the work of governments and non-governmental organizations. As educators, we need to do our part and also become globally competent.

By: Richel Langit-Dursin

Primary Years Programme coordinator

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, Jakarta


Celebrating International Mother Language Day

Posted on


 The person who knows only one language does not truly know that language”.  (Goethe)

The United Nations has declared February 21 as the Mother Language Day. It is the day that we celebrate our first language and culture. First language is considered the language that we are exposed to and speak since we were born.

We need to maintain and preserve our first language and culture as our cultural identity and to keep our emotional stability. Studies show that we will learn another language quickly if we maintain our proficiency in our first language. According to Jim Cummins (2001), children who continue to develop their abilities in two or more languages in their primary school years, will gain a deeper understanding of language and how to use it effectively. They have more practice in processing language and they are able to compare and contrast in the ways how their two languages work.

To celebrate the event, the PYP Indonesian Language Department at BINUS SCHOOL Simprug organized an assembly, titled “International Mother Language Assembly” last February 21. We had performances from a variety of languages and cultures. The performances included student presentations and performances in Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese and Korean.  There was also a national costume show representing different cultures. National costumes from Pakistan, Serbia, Kenya, Australia, India, Korean, China, Japan, Indonesia, France, and Singapore were shown during the assembly.

All PYP students were encouraged to speak in their mother tongue not only on that day but anytime they wish to.


By: Ratuu Harida

PYP Indonesian Department Head


Enlargement Drawing

Posted on

Enlargement drawing is to change the size of a drawing or a picture. I like to give this activity to my grade 5 students. This activity was very challenging. You can see how serious the children were in doing this activity. Why? It is because the children needed to make sure that the details were in the correct position. We used scale to help enlarge the drawing.

I usually do the individual project as a formative task and group project as summative assessment. I made this activity for the third time but with a different theme.

First, I gave this activity to make an enlargement drawing of a famous painting. Second, the students made an enlargement drawing of famous political activists.  Third, the students made Punakawan.

Before starting the lesson, I explained the function of scale in drawings. Students were given a drawing worksheet with grids. In the worksheet, there was a small picture with grids and bigger blank grids for students to re-draw the picture. This activity made sure that students knew when they had to follow the details or lines in the picture. After the students completed the worksheet, they had to do a challenging activity wherein they had to create their own grids using a ruler.

The first challenge was that students had to make sure that the grids were straight and bigger than the worksheet given. Many of the students needed to re-do their measurement since they were not able to make their grids straight. After the students made straight grids, they re-drew the same picture on the bigger grids. The most important is that the ratio must be 1:1. otherwise the drawing will not be the same as the picture. Why must it be 1:1? It has to be the same number of lines on the paper and reference picture.

The reason students had to do it as an individual art project was that they needed to know and understand the basic knowledge of the function of grids. This understanding and knowledge will help them when they do the summative task.

The other challenge was that students needed to put together several pieces of pictures. After putting all the pictures together, students created grids to enlarge the picture on the paper size given. They chose the cut pieces and started creating the enlargement drawing individually. As soon as they were done with individual drawings, they had to connect each piece with another to make sure that the enlargement drawing is the same as the combined pieces. When they found any mistake, they fixed it and matched it again. This action continued until the picture was the same as the whole picture. In doing this learning engagement, the students became more open-minded, developed further their thinking skills, gained respect, showed tolerance to their group members, and demonstrated problem-solving skills.

The last challenge was that students had to make sure that they colored each part of the picture with the same color. Since students used different brands for their crayon, they need to decide which brand that they had to use for each part because if they used different brands of crayon, it will produce different colors even though the color has same name.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By: Irma Dwi Savitri

Visual Art teacher








Koi in the Pond

Posted on

One of the famous fishes from Japan is koi. The koi has unique colours. It may have a single colour or two to three colours. The pattern on the koi fish itself makes it more beautiful. The beauty of koi fish provided me an idea to create a class project. I decided to make this project for grade 5 and it was a stand-alone unit of inquiry.

Since this is a class project, the pond had to be big enough to accommodate all the koi fishes. I used three pieces of white Manila paper. I divided the students into three groups. Each group needed to paint one Manila paper using water colour with blue colour. Students enjoyed this activity when they painted the Manila paper. When the paint already dried, we connected the three pieces of Manila paper together.

The next activity that the students had to do was to trace the koi templates which teacher already provided for them. Students need to trace two small and 1 big koi fish template. Students also had to create a lily pond and water lily. They colored and cut all of them. Students had to color back to back the koi tails and water lily.

Students felt excited when they saw the result of their fishes. They showed each other their koi final product to their friends. The most enjoyable part was when the students started to put their koi fishes on the Manila paper that they had painted. I saw how proud they were with their project.

From this learning engagement, the students learnt the following:
• The element of art: form
• The principle of art: pattern
• Problem-solving skills
• Being a thinker
• Collaboration skills


By: Irma Dwi Savitri
Visual Art teacher