Strategies to Enhance Students’ Engagement in the Classroom

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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

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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.)

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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













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“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

Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals to Students

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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


Enlargement Drawing

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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.

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By: Irma Dwi Savitri

Visual Art teacher








The Importance of Unpacking the Central Idea for Learner Agency

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“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



“Exploration is a cycle. We move through stages of it everyday.”-Eddie 3C



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.

Year 3 A demonstrating the Transdisciplinary Theme and authentic connections made to the key words and concepts in the unit. Furthermore, students built personal vocabulary to personally connect to the Central Idea.

Fun with Lights

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Light, for most children, this word means sun and lamp. In my Kindergarten 2 class, children have also presented the same meaning about light, which is under the transdisciplinary theme ‘How the World Works’. In the beginning, when we set the classroom as dark as possible, students entered the room scared but excited. Then, we asked them to put on their shoes and tidy up the toys, etc. As a result, they found it difficult to execute those jobs because they could not see. After a while, we turned on the lights and started the discussion about the situation that they have just experienced.

The discussion has shown their prior knowledge that lights come from sun and lamps. Next, we explored the sources of light and they realized that it is not only the sun and lamps that could give lights. We also extended the discussion about natural and man-made sources of lights. Finally, students came up with their own words that from man-made sources of lights, we could turn on and turn off the light.

We also integrated this understanding with Math, under the Measurement strand, where students have measured the size of their own shadow. In pairs, they worked together for this task. After a few hours, students did their shadow size measurement again to compare their findings. They used the term shorter and longer to explain the results. The students also created their abstract shadow drawings using plants and leaves, as part of their Art learning experiences.

The children had fun in this Unit of Inquiry. They even read the book “The Black Rabbit,” which is a story about shadows. The students made the cover for this story. They applied their artistic sense and skills in making the cover using playdough, coloured paints and other materials that come from their ideas such as straws, colourful rice, stones, etc.  In the end, students have learnt the use of lights that aside from seeing, it can also be for entertaining – like for shadow puppet and light dancing.


By Dian Anggraini

K2 Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia