The Highly Engaged Classroom Webinar

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hosted by Debra Pickering

The model of attention and engagement has 4 areas:

  • Emotions
  • Levels of interest
  • Perceptions of importance
  • Beliefs about efficacy

This model helps to choose and implement appropriate strategies for enhancing engagement.

Students are bombarded with inputs from the outside world (Sensory memory), which affects their Working memory
They also remember things from Permanent memory, it goes to Working memory.
Winning the battle for the Working Memory = ATTENTION

The model of Attention and Engagement
Attention is the gatekeeper.
Attention: emotions, interest (How do I feel? Am I interested?)
Engagement: Importance, efficacy (Is this important? Can I do this?)


1. How do I feel?
Positive Emotions:
Enthusiasm, enjoyment, satisfaction, pride, vitality, zest
Negative emotions; boredom, frustration, anger, sadness, worry, shame

Research tells to check these areas:
Monitor student’s energy levels
Maintain positive demeanor
Develop students’ perceptions of acceptance

Use effective pacing
Incorporate physical movement
Demonstrate intensity and enthusiasm (personal stories)
Use humor (headlines, jokes, clips)
Build positive teacher-student and peer relationship (feel everybody is smarter than me)

2. Am I interested?
(I did not know that, wait a minute that is interesting..)
Individual interest (student interest they already interested in, important for engagement)
Situational interest (triggered and maintained, what’s going on over there)

Research tells to check these areas:
We have to maintain Triggered and Maintained situational interest

Use games and inconsequential competition (vocabulary games, turn questions into spontaneous games)
Initiate friendly controversy (class votes, debate, town hall meeting, legal,)
Present unusual information (allowing students to check for interesting facts, guest speaker)
Question to increase response rate (calling on randomly, choral responses, simultaneous individual responses, paired responses)

Think about your last experience as a student. What did the teacher do or NOT do, to maintain interest? (pacing, involving in doing

ENGAGEMENT (more than just paying attention, it is being engaged)
What gets and maintains students attention, does not necessarily keep them engaged.
To achieve engagement, teachers must attend to students’ perceptions of importance and efficacy.

3. Is this important?
(maybe it’s who says it, or it relates to me personally, to solve something)
Connect to students’ personal goals
Engage students in cognitively challenging tasks

Connect to students’ lives (comparison, analogical reasoning tasks)
Connect to students’ life ambitions (personal projects)
Encourage application of knowledge ( provide choice, real world applications, cognitively challenging task)

4. Can I do this?
If you think you are not going to be successful, you turn away.
I have the resources, I have the means to be successful.

Focus of the Research:
Help students work from positive “possible selves”
Teach and reinforce productive “self-theories”

Track and study progress (personal academic goal, effort and preparation)
Use effective verbal feedback
Provide examples of self-efficacy (stories, quotations)
Teach self-efficacy.

Implementation of strategies may be daily, situational, transformational, traditional, digital
NYT article
This generation will be less able to sustain attention. Their brains become habituated to distraction and to switching tasks, not to focus.
Students lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own.

Attention: Games
One students looking at the screen (pictures of famous people) the other is not, one who is looking giving out clues, the other has to guess

Define terms, other guesses the term (picture of pie chart, octagon, pentagon)

Attention: Question for inclusion
Calling on students randomly
Paired response
Wait time
Response chaining
Choral response
Simultaneous individual responses (hand signal, card, clickers)
Have them discuss their responses and do it again see the changes in responses

Attention: Unusual information
National economics
The national debit is discussed in terms of trillions of dollars.
What is the difference between a million, a billion, and a trillion?
A million seconds is 12 days
A billion seconds is 31 years.
A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

Attention: Initiate friendly controversy
If a Viking and a Samurai had a battle, who would win?
Be ready to defend your choice in terms of culture, technology, mission and the role in sociatty of the warriors.

Engagement: Connect to students’ lives
Comparison tasks, analogical reasoning tasks
Teaching “mutualism” (two animals benefit from each other)
Picture of an alligator and plover bird

Alligator: plover bird as _:__ (cat and me)

Teaching Hamlet
Classic literature has universal message.
“Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.”
Don’t act too quickly on your thoughts.

Engagement: Connect to students’ life ambitions

Personal projects
1. What do I want to accomplish?
2. Who else accomplished the same thing? Who will support me?
3. What skills and resources will I need?
4. What will I have to change to achieve my goal?
5. What is my plan? How hard will I have to work?
6. What small steps can I take right now?
7. How have I been doing?
8. What have I learned about myself?

Dan Pink on TED

He is talking about compliance and engagement :

Reward - punishment does not work.
How human motivation (extrinsic-intrinsic)?
Mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
Rewards narrow our focus. It works for simple tasks.
Higher intensives led to poorer performance.
Financial incentives have negative impact.
Intrinsic motivation approach for the 21st century.
(it matters, it is interesting, we like it, part of something important)
AUTONOMY (urge to direct our own lives), MASTERY (the desire to get better and better at something that matters), PURPOSE (do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves).

Autonomy: atlasian Australian software company tells its employees, in the next 24 hours do whatever you want, then they present what they created. FEDEX day, you have to create something and deliver it overnight. At Google engineers can work 20% of their time on anything they want> half of their products created during that 20% of time. Another example: ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), people do not have schedule, they work whenever, wherever. Compared Microsoft Encarto and Wikipedia.

Guy Kawasaki – Enchantment – London April 2011