An Epic Guide to Student Engagement in the Classroom

Schlectly level of engagements

When I first saw this infographic (created by Dr. Roland Rios) based on Schlechty’s Levels of Engagement, it actually took me a moment to collect my thoughts.

I quickly asked myself, “What the heck does student engagement even mean?” And then followed that with, “I wonder if my students actually have high attention and commitment, or are they just being strategically compliant?”

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words. For me, this picture led to a thousand questions.

For some reason, classroom management’s connection to student engagement was not part of my discussions as an undergrad, student teacher, or even first year teacher. We seemed to miss the piece that a “well managed classroom” doesn’t necessarily mean students are learning, and classroom management is actually very easy when students are engaged.

To be fair, I did not seek out this information myself either. When I started to think about these things and make student engagement a main focus in my instructional practice, things began to dramatically change. Whereas before I was worried about “entertaining” my students to keep them engaged, I soon realized that when students care about what they are doing, and find meaning and relevance in their task…it’s much more likely they’ll have high attention and high commitment.

I write a lot about student choice, inquiry-based learning, and how to bring innovation back into the classroom. Yet, when I boil down the reasons I love choice in learning…it seems to always come back to a connection with student engagement.

John Spencer and I decided to devote the entire month of April to the topic of “Student Engagement” on our podcast Classroom Questions. 

What followed is 18 episodes and over 300 minutes of in-depth conversations on student engagement in the classroom. I hope you enjoy this epic guide, and subscribe to our podcast Classroom Questions for May’s topic of Professional Development.

The Classroom Questions podcast is on iTunes and Stitcher. You can listen and subscribe on iTunes here or on Stitcher here. Enjoy!

CQ 032: Top 5 Ways to Boost Student Engagement 

In this final episode of April’s “student engagement” theme, John and A.J. look back on the Top 5 ways to boost student engagement in the classroom.

Related Resources:

CQ 031: How can we create a student ownership in the classroom? 

John and A.J. discuss what student ownership looks like, and how to instill a sense of ownership through various learning activities and experiences.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 030: Are extroverts always engaged, or are we missing an opportunity for learning? 

A follow-up episode to the previous discussion on introverts, John and A.J. talk about how we often miss an opportunity to engage extroverts in our classrooms.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 029: How do we engage the shy student in class? 

John and A.J. discuss whether being shy is the same thing as being an introvert, and why the distinction is important when it comes to engaging students in our classrooms.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 028: How can positive peer pressure drive student engagement? 

John and A.J. discuss the possibility of positive peer pressure in the classroom, and how a negative terms might be thought about differently. 

Recommended Resources:

CQ 027: How can I take an old lesson, and revise it for flow? (Part 3) 

John and A.J. take two of their personal lessons (that tanked) and fix them up to include a space for student engagement and flow!

Recommended Resources:

CQ 026: Flow in the classroom, continued (Part 2) 

John and A.J. continue their discussion on flow in the classroom.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 025: What is “flow” and how does it impact learning? (Part 1) 

John and A.J. begin a three-part discussion on Flow and how important it is for student learning.

Recommended Resources:

CQ24: How do I pace my class so that kids don’t get bored? 

John discusses the pacing of class in this solo show about boredom, engagement, and how fast (or slow) to go while instructing.

Recommended Reading:

CQ 23: Is technology a distraction in the classroom? 

In this episode John and A.J. discuss whether or not technology is engaging or distracting in the classroom. Each shares stories of their use of tech in the classroom and how it played a role in engagement.

Recommended Resources

CQ22: How can inquiry increase student engagement in the classroom? 

John and A.J. discuss the power of inquiry in the classroom and how any teacher can make time in their curriculum for inquiry (and student choice).

Recommended Resources:

CQ21: How do you engage a student who really doesn’t like math? 

In this episode John and A.J. discuss how to work with a student who can’t stand the content and specific subject you teach…in this case it’s math.

Recommended Resources:

CQ20: How can student choice increase engagement? 

A.J. takes on this question in a solo show about student choice. In this episode you’ll learn about A.J.’s journey as a teacher with choice in the classroom and what led him down the road to starting the 20% Project with his class.

Resources Shared:

CQ 019: Should teachers assess the process or the product when grading student work? 

John and A.J. debate which piece of student work is better to focus on and assess: process or product. Things get a bit heated as they sit on opposite sides of this question!

Recommended Resources:

CQ 018: Do Badges Increase Engagement? 

A.J. and John debate the pros and cons of badges in the classroom, and whether or not they actually increase student engagement.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 017: How do you help that one student who is not engaged? 

John and A.J. discuss what it’s like to have one student who never seems to be engaged, and offer up strategies and some stories on how they dealt with this issue in their classrooms.

Recommended Resources:

CQ 016: How can we make informational texts more engaging?  

John and AJ discuss the power of informational texts in learning, and why they don’t have to be boring!

Recommended Resources:

CQ 015: What does an engaged classroom look like? 

John and AJ kick off a month-long theme on “Student Engagement” and talk about what an engaged classroom actually looks like (or doesn’t look like) in this episode.

Recommended Resources:

Have a resource, blog post, or book about student engagement? Leave it in the comments to share with the community!


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