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Engage Every Student in Your Lesson

Teachers have finished their first weeks of school and are now realizing they have a wider range of needs than they anticipated in the classroom. If you are trying to figure out how to ensure each student gets what they need without making yourself crazy, read on for a sample lesson and four high-leverage ways to engage all learners.

Pro-Tip #1: Leverage small groups

Look at the example below and read about how each group is organized.

In this lesson on electromagnetic force there are three required activities, video, guided notes, and a lab investigation. A typical lesson follows the structure (1) Intro to new material (2) Guided practice (3) Independent practice. In the below example, the class is organized into four small groups who will complete those activities over a series of four rotations.

Question: How does the below structure support a range of learners in the classroom?

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Engaging and Supporting all Learners_ Middle School Science
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Answer: Allows you to:

  1. Provide students with different entry points into the lesson.

  2. Check in with students who need the most support.

  3. Build background knowledge or targeted vocabulary support before introducing new content.

Pro-Tip #2: Start your lesson with a video or interactive activity

Videos are a great way to integrate scaffolds into your lesson and are exciting for all students. Videos can be a great way to introduce a topic and build background knowledge in a risk free format for students. Imagine you are a student watching a video visualization about circumference or photosynthesis instead of going straight into a written example. Which would you rather do?

Pro-Tip #3: Put key information online and use tools such as Speechify for text-to-audio reading support.

Students who are struggling readers or need language support can still have access to grade level content through accessibility features such as speechify. If you give students access to a note-taking template online and provide key notes in an online format (Example), they can still engage in grade level content.

Pro-Tip #4: Use online classroom management tools, such as Class Dojo, to support on-task behavior.

You might be asking yourself, how do I manage group behavior while using small groups. Here are a few tips.

  • Display visual behavior system and track points visually once during each rotation and between each rotation. When you first start out, overdo the positive recognition!

  • Use a visual noise meter and display it during work time. (Class Dojo has one in their class toolkit).

  • Be strategic about how you are spending your time and where you are physically located, think about kids who need the most support and redirection and map your location and design their groups/rotations accordingly.

  • Practice, practice, practice! All structures work best when you practice them with students and set clear expectations.

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