Sunday, 16 August 2015


I'm I have enjoyed reading all the great posts from the teacher bloggers who have joined this BTS in a Flash linky the past weeks. There are so many super ideas out there that I can't wait to try out in my classroom!

This week the topic is things we do to foster our students' engagement. 
Here are a couple of things that have been successful for me over the years. 

Reading aloud to kids!  I try to read at least once to them every day. I was feeling a time pinch a couple of years ago so I started reading chapter books to them while they were eating their morning snack. I wondered whether they would feel unhappy that I had requisitioned part of their "visiting" time, but the first time I didn't do it they let me know in no uncertain terms that it was one of the highlights of their day. Sometimes I read an entire book to them over the course of a couple of weeks, and sometimes I just read a chapter or two to entice them into reading it themselves. 

When I read picture books to my students I usually do it first thing in the morning and then have them do a follow up activity. One of the favourites I've found is to write a postcard pretending that they are a character from the story, or that they are writing to a character. My students have really enjoyed doing this and I've even been asked frequently if they can write more than one postcard.  
I blogged about Scaredy Squirrel and an activity I do after reading HERE. There's a freebie in the post!

Something that really changed my classroom was having large blocks of time for Language Arts and Math centers. These are often hands on activities and include playing a variety of games with a partner or in small groups. I bought Fountas and Pinnell's book Guided Reading:  Good First Teaching for All Students at a workshop many years ago. It was pretty expensive for me at the time, but it's a purchase I never regretted. It not only gives explicit instructions for running Guided Reading groups, but has excellent info on setting up LA centers. 

Once I got started with centers the kids loved them so much I knew I'd never look back. I set up a rotation board that told the type of activity they'd be doing at a certain time, and they would often get a choice of what they did. Being able to pick which activity they want to do is a big factor in keeping students focused and engaged in their work. 
FOOD!  Whenever I fit eating into the curriculum they are 100% on board. This works really well with Social Studies. Studying about China? Bring in fortune cookies!

Or with a zillion read alouds!  Here are a few of the obvious ones. 

In Math I sometimes make little edible counters (eg fishy crackers) part of the lesson, especially when we need manipulatives to work on a concept in small groups. No eating until we're done, though!
Check out the other posts in the collection, or better yet, add your own.  I'd love to hear what you do in your classroom!

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