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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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)
- 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
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” – The Beatles
Year 1 kicked off their second Unit of Inquiry, “Who We Are,” celebrating familiar friendships and also making new ones along the way. A special day to recognize those who make our lives that much more special, FRIENDS.
What a better way to start Friendship Day than with a friendship jam? Students sang, held hands, and swayed to the happy, jazzy tune of Bruno Mar’s “Count on Me”. Next, they were off on a “Find Someone Who” scavenger hunt, seeking out friends who had the same favorite things as themselves. Amazing to see how many Year 1 students discovering others who also love the color red, or have pasta as their favorite food!
Students had their chance to shine and demonstrate true friendship qualities by participating in exciting team building activities which required much cooperation, communication. First: The Hula Hoop Challenge! Get the hula hoop from the first student in your line to the last. Easy enough? Oh wait, don’t forget to hold hands! DON’T LET GO…or it’s back to the beginning! Students cheered each other on as they wiggled and wormed their way through the hoop.
The next activity was, literally, TUBULAR! Students talked each other through passing a marble through cardboard tubes, carefully and skillfully placing one after the other. DON’T DROP THE MARBLE! Or…you guessed it…back to the beginning! The first team to get the marble to the end of the line AND in the bowl was the winner. Talk about intense concentration!
The friendship fun and festivities did not end there. The Parachute Pen in a Bottle proved challenging and fun, as the students’ had to communicate with their voices, hands, and bodies towards a common goal: lower the pen into the water bottle by together maneuvering the parachute…harder than it sounds! Group 2 discovered “slow and steady wins the race” as they successfully hit their target. Group 1 was not far behind, also utilizing teamwork to successfully reach their goal!
Last but not least, students demonstrated positive social skills and caring by creating a bookmark reflecting the likes and favorites of his/her partner. These will be laminated for students to use when they read, as well as a remembrance of this special day. New students to Global were recognized, as well as seeing existing students working together to complete this thoughtful activity.
YEAR 1 FRIENDSHIP DAY. A special day where existing friendships were enhanced, and new friendships were formed.
“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” – Clarence the Angel – (“It’s a Wonderful Life”)
Ibu Marla – Year 1 teacher
Classroom is a place of millions imagination. It is also the real world for the students that represents the whole world. Thus, classroom should be contextual and close to our real life. It is aimed that what the students learn within the classroom is not something abstract that is beyond the students’ hands to reach.
In the unit of inquiry “How We Organize Ourselves” with the central idea “communities make efforts to create transportation systems that meet their needs”, Reception Senior class in Sekolah Cikal Surabaya has challenging and engaging various activities that lead the students’ understanding on three lines of inquiry, which are feature of transportation system, decisions involved in using transportation, and how system of transportation respond to changing needs. Regarding those lines of inquiry, the key concepts that underlie them are form, function, and change.
Through this central idea, students are expected to develop their transdisciplinary skills and IB learner profile, such as social and communication skills. Throughout the process of learning, students will develop their cooperation by working together and helping each other within the group members to finish the tasks. Students also learn to decide something in a group to finish the project chosen.
Collaboration within group to finish the project
In addition, students will also develop communication skill, covering non-verbal communication in which students will learn how to be a good presenter in front of the audience by speaking loudly, active in showing their project with clear gesture, and keeping the eye contact to the audience. Not only developing non-verbal communication, but also acting to be a good listener to their friends’ presentation and explanation in front of the class by being attentive, respecting others who have presentation, and asking a question in a good manner.
Developing communication skill through presentation
The teaching sequences are based on the inquiry cycle started from the tuning in, finding out, sorting out, going further, making conclusion. The brief description is as follows:
Students tell their holiday experiences in using transportation from the photos.
Students bring their transportation toys to school and explain in front of the class its features and their experience on that kind of transportation.
Students watch video about kinds and the means of transportation.
Students share their real life experiences of using a certain transportation and bring the toys to represent the transportation used
Students have fieldtrip to see the transportation system in Suramadu, Surabaya North Quay, and Tanjung Perak port.
Students identify the distance from one place to another by telling their experience when they go somewhere, using map, globe, google map.
Fieldtrip to experience a kind of water transportation
Students make diorama about transportation system that meet their needs.
Students choose their destination place.
Students decide the transportation they need.
Students do mapping for their destination route.
Students try to draw a map of the destination route
Students find the information about the place they want to go with teacher assistance.
Students make the vehicle, buildings, important places, etc from the unused material that they find.
Students work together in groups to make the diorama.
Students’ diorama about transportation system
From a number of learning experiences, students conclude that to choose particular transportation means is affected by a number of factors, such as distance, time effectiveness, cost, and availability.
Atik Dian Anggraeni – Ika Fitriani
Reception Senior Teacher – Sekolah Cikal Surabaya
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”- Plato
The Central Idea is a channel through which students embark on an investigation to explore the world around them. It is the springboard which inspires self-directed inquiry throughout the unit. Through unpacking the Central Idea, teachers can offer a pathway for students to build upon independent thought and form the basis for autonomous action.
During Week 1 of the unit, ‘Where We are in Place and Time’, Year 3 teachers created an environment where students were actively involved in the moment by moment intellective breakdown of the Central Idea. Students interdependently demonstrated authentic connections between the Central Idea and the concepts exploration and discovery through the visible thinking process. Once their collaborative thinking engines were firing, it was easy for them to self-direct their personal inquiry and exploration.
by Ibu Anna Cottrell
Year 3 A students working on making relevant connections between the Central Idea, Key Concepts and Transdisciplinary Theme. Students later added guiding questions to kick start their personal inquiry in the unit.
“You’re my best friend, just like a family. We keep best moments in our mind. We remember every time with you”.
That’s a part of the song that one of Grade 5 students composed with her group in music class, as their interest for the mini exhibition project. This year, Grade 5 students chose to do a mini exhibition, as a form of Parent Presentation. They took the unit of art under the theme of How We Express Ourselves.
The central idea is “Creating and responding to art develops understanding of ourselves and the world around us”. This time, they made their lines of inquiry from their questions. Despite of challenging found in this stage, the fifth graders showed their enthusiasm by being more selective in forming the lines of the inquiry. Moreover, as they worked in pairs to do the project, the challenges seemed more interesting for them.
Other challenges were to find the information explaining their lines of inquiry, but they have tried to research using different media, such as books, the internet, as well as interviewing people at school and at home.The artwork that they explored were music, drawing, graffiti, mixed media, crafting, etc. Single Subject Teachers, such as art, music, IT, were involved to help students in guiding them during the process of collecting information and to consult on their project.
The fifth graders have learned lots of things during the process; how to learn with others, to share responsibilities, to create their own artwork, and to present the information in front of audiences. Their hard work was seen from the beginning of the project up to the D- day.
This event successfully held on Friday, 26th January. The students enthusiasticallypresented their creation such as performing their own song “Best Friends” and “The Special One”. Positive response and support from their parents and school community were seen during the exhibition. This activity will help them picturing what exhibition looks like next year.
Under the theme “How We Organize Ourselves” Grade 1 students had the opportunity to learn about the journey of food production. To find out about our prior knowledge, we worked in pairs and observed different types of food and drinks using a Mini Market activity. After having the observation, we chose one type of food or drink, discussed with our partners and presented our findings about the origins of food. The most interesting part was that some of us had an argument about the origins of potato chips, milk, and cheese.
Our friends had an opinion that the origin of potato chips is that the worker has to cut the potatoes really thin before they fry them. Others said that the origin of potato chips is from flour. The workers need to put the dough into the mold and make it really thin. After they fry the dough, they give potato flavour to make it taste like potato.
All of us agree that milk can come from animals or plants. But one of the groups that choose “milk” said that strawberry milk comes from the cow that eat strawberries, chocolate milk comes from the cow that eat chocolate bars, and vanilla milk comes from the cow that eat grass. Some other groups still didn’t have any prior knowledge about milk production.
We also know that the origin of cheese is from milk. At first, we thought that if cheese comes from milk, it means we only need to put the milk in the freezer to make it solid like cheese. Do you think our thinking is right? Scroll and read carefully our article!
After the mini market activity presentation, our teachers give us a catalogue of products then we have to categorize them based on the origins of the products (animal or plant) in pairs using T-chart. We still had confusion about the origins of food, whether from plants or animals.
Our next activity were watching videos of “How Is Rice Made. Food Facts for Kids. Inside the Farm with Kids”, “Remarkable Rice. How Does Rice Grow”, “Growing Rice in Indonesia”, and “Growing Rice in Jiuxiancun, China”. From the videos, now we know that Indonesia and China have the same processes to grow rice. After having discussions about the origins and the processes of rice production, our teachers divided us into 4 groups to make a flow chart about the processes of rice production. We made the flow charts using Paint application, session in ICT lesson.
Next, we had a storytelling session from the book “See Inside Where Food Comes From” by Emily Bone. It is very interesting that milk comes not only from cows, but also from other animals, such as goat, camel and horse! We also read “Learn about Food” by Brimax and watched a video of “How Orange Juice Is Made” to learn that orange come from seeds. After we read the stories and watched the movie, we made a flow chart by drawing the origins of food and the processes by ourselves.
Next experiment was our favourite! We put two cartons of milk, chocolate and vanilla in our school freezer and waited until the next day to prove to our teachers that our thinking was right. After two days, we took the milk from the freezer and opened it in our classroom. From the colours, we saw that the colours were different from the colour of the cheese that we saw every day. Our friend said that maybe the worker put food colouring so the cheese can change the colour into yellow. But after we taste it, it taste like ICE CREAM! IT’S NOT CHEESE! From the experiment, we realize that it was not how to produce our cheese.
From our flow chart, we made a book about food production. We could choose from milk production, juice production or rice production. In our book you can see our drawings and sentences about food production and the key roles people play in food production.
For our summative assessment task, we had a role play. First, we chose the topic (milk production, rice production or juice production). Second, we discussed with our group about the characters and who would play them. After we knew our characters, we wrote the story with our group. We practised and we made our own props.
Let’s appreciate our food and be thankful for our daily meal because the processes of food production spend a lot of time and energy!
Grade 1 students and teachers
Central Idea: Equal access to the earth’s finite resources provides challenges for the global community.
Key Concepts: function, connection, responsibility
Related Concepts: finite resources, distribution, access, equity, conflict resolution
Lines of Inquiry:
- Finite and infinite natural resources
- The distribution of natural resources
- Challenges to have equitable access to natural resources
As the tuning in activity, students were given some pictures of different objects, such as wood, sunlight, car, drawer, cotton, shirt, coal, burger, house, crown, windmill, refinery, grain, ocean, and the electricity tower. They worked in group to classify those objects into two classifications. Some groups came up with common and uncommon things, then some classified them as nature-made and man-made. This activity held to show their prior knowledge about natural resources. Therefore, they could identify things that are natural or come from nature and those that are produced by man.
After that, students showed their understanding about what natural resources are by using Frayer Model. Next, students worked in pairs to sort out objects; found out its raw material, analyzed the object, made criteria about finite and infinite, then finally defined finite and infinite. The objects are spoon, drink can, plastic, paper, cake, cloth, and glass. They did research to answer those questions.
We provided some articles to be read at home by the students, entitled “Everything Comes From The Earth” and “Natural Resouces”. They also needed to fill in the vocabulary list given. As the first line of inquiry assessment, students worked on a T-chart about finite and infinite natural resources. They needed to write the definitian as well as the examples.
For the second line of inquiry; the distribution of natural resources, we supported the materials with an e-book called “I Need to Know: An Introduction To The Oil Industry & OPEC”. We focused this inquiry on oil as the finite resources. Students learned what crude oil is, what petroleum is, how oil is formed, why oil is important, and how to find oil (upstream) as well as refine oil (downstream). Beside reading the e-book, students need to respond to the passage by filling in several visible thinking tools as follow:
They also learned about the distribution of natural resources in Indonesia. First, they are divided into 5 groups to find out about well-known places that produce natural resources in Indonesia, such as Sumatera, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua. Then, they traced the island in A3 paper and did research about what kind of natural resources found in those five islands, specifically in what city or area it is.
We also invited experts who helped us to teach students deeper about oil, especially about the distribution process of oil or petroleum, starting from the exploration process up to delivery process to the gas stations. The experts are Bapak Mega Nainggolan from PT Energi Mega Persada Tbk. (“EMP”), an independent upstream oil and gas company headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia and Mr. Mike Irvine, one of our school parents who works for an oil company.
Students needed to organize the information they got from the experts by filling in the visible thinking tools provided by teachers.
We went for an excursion, too. It was actually the library lesson program. Ibu Any, our teacher librarian, has focused on water as the natural resources learned. She took students to water filtration office in Kemang Pratama, Bekasi. The purpose of this visit is for finding out about clean water processing in Kemang Pratama area.
For the last line inquiry of this unit; challenges to have equitable access to natural resources, we brainstormed what challenges can be found in oil distributing process. Students analyzed the process in distributing natural resource (oil) – big picture; used post it to share what might happen within the process; discussed the challenges in distributing the oil to citizens; suggested how to minimize the challenges. Its challenges according to the students are, for example, infrastructure, signal, weather, license, local experts, accident, explosion, and technology.
After they shared their ideas about challenges in oil distribution process, we connected the lesson to IB Learner Profile focus for this unit, which are Principled and Caring. By looking at the numbers of post it stuck on the poster, students were aware that there are so many challenges in oil distribution process, so they thought of how they can apply our learner profile to minimize the challenges. Some said that as a principled person, we need to use petroleum or water wisely since they are finite resources. Moreover, we need to follow the rules or procedure when we are in the gas station to show that we are caring.
As the Summative Assessment or final project, students needed to show their understanding about natural resources’ distribution process, challenges of the distribution process, and suggestions to minimize the challenges by creating a PPT to explain them all. First, they needed to choose one finite resource, thought of its usage for life, its distribution process, challenges of the process, and suggestions to minimize the challenges then present them in a PPT. Most students chose oil to be presented since we learned more about oil than other resources. Some explained about gold, coal, and water.
For English lesson, our beloved English teacher, Mr.Swart, taught the students how to create an advertisement. As the tuning in activity, he asked them to create an advertisement about a floating hotel by using their own words or ideas. As the final assessment and connecting to our unit of inquiry, he asked students to do research about Indonesian Natural Resources and create an advertisement to promote Indonesian Natural Resources.
Author: Audrey Liana Tamba
(Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher, Sekolah Victory Plus)