It goes without saying that students who are engaged in the learning process are more likely to experience success. But students who do not participate fully in this process - situation frequently encountered with adolescents - present significant challenges to teachers. There are no easy answers or quick fixes to the problem of disengaged youth; however, by keeping in mind the developmental needs of this age group, as well as the general principles of learner engagement, there are some strategies for supporting disengaged students:
Planning with the end in mind (also known as backward design or design-down planning) has three stages:
An inquiry classroom is one in which students are actively engaged in constructing new understandings. This approach is valuable in any classroom where we want students to acquire particular attitudes, skills, and new understandings. Essential questions:
There are three components of assessment and evaluation:
A variety of assessment and evaluation tasks allows students to demonstrate their understanding and skills in ways that are comfortable for them. Along with traditional paper-and-pencil types of assessment, it is important to include such assessment techniques as effective feedback, graphic organizers, observation, and authentic culminating tasks.
In Live Ink: A wide variety of assessment techniques are used. Task-specific and generic rubrics match provincial requirements. Differentiated "next steps" are based on the results of assessments for learning.
There are a number of actions that are beneficial to all students and essential to struggling students. These include:
In Live Ink: The texts, activities, and instructional support provided in Live Ink offer balanced, comprehensive, and effective literacy instruction appropriate for all students. Targeted support for students with literacy difficulties is offered throughout the Teacher‚'s Handbooks.
Students in our classrooms use social language (the language of interaction) and academic language (the language of conceptual understanding). English Language Learners (ELLs) acquire social language skills quickly, often within a year, but require anywhere from five to seven years to develop the academic language skills required in the classroom. This is hardly surprising; all students, including native English speakers, are on a developmental continuum of academic language proficiency in secondary school and beyond.
The following tips will help you assist ELL students:
In Live Ink: The online versions of the Teacher‚'s Handbooks (the eHandbooks) offer specific teaching tips to support ELL students. The ELL logo (shown in the margin) is used in the print version of the Teacher‚'s Handbooks to indicate when ELL support is available in the eHandbooks. Working in pairs or small groups is beneficial for ELL students, and Live Ink offers frequent opportunities for students to work together (see Grouping for Learning on p. 16 of this handbook). For Live Ink features that support acquisition of new vocabulary, see Vocabulary Development on p. 22 of this handbook.
Research has shown that the most effective teaching includes explicit instruction in the use of literacy strategies within learning situations that are scaffolded and differentiated.
Strategies are mental plans of action that are transferable from one situation or subject to another. The goal is for students to use strategies automatically. Before this can happen, students need to use a strategy repeatedly and develop metacognitive awareness of how they can apply the strategy in a variety of situations.
In Live Ink: The Student Books and the Teacher‚'s Handbooks provide instructional support for the full range of strategies for reading, writing, listening, and speaking, as well as for viewing (understanding media) and representing (creating media).
For students to acquire the powerful literacy strategies, they need explicit instruction that makes the use of strategies procedural rather than "magical." Modelling the use of a strategy by using a think-aloud process (verbalizing thoughts while working through a text) allows teachers to share connections, clarify confusions, and demonstrate to students the strategies they might use to interact with a text.
In Live Ink: The Student Books include Strategy Spotlight features that offer explicit instruction in reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing (understanding media), and representing (creating media) strategies. Teaching notes in the handbooks include support for strategy instruction.
Students will develop independence at different times, so they should be supported through teaching that follows the gradual release of responsibility model. It is important to note that scaffolding occurs in whole-class or small-group settings; it does not require one-on-one teaching.
In Live Ink: Teaching notes for Strategy Spotlights are organized according to the gradual release of responsibility model. Teaching notes for all Live Ink texts make frequent use of pair and small-group activities so that students are provided with opportunities for collaboration before being required to work independently.
Differentiated instruction is effective instruction that is responsive to the readiness, interests, and learning preferences of an individual. Gathering this information may seem a daunting challenge, but it does not need to be. Having casual conversations with students will help identify interests, while observing students as you use a range of instructional approaches will help you determine their learning preferences. Readiness is always determined through assessments for learning (pre-assessments and formative assessments).
Key principles of effective differentiation:
In Live Ink: Manageable and meaningful differentiated instruction is based on simple assessments for learning. Each module in Live Ink models and provides full support, including assessments, for a particular differentiation structure.
Being metacognitive means being reflective and "thinking about our thinking." Metacognitive skill give students greater control over their learning because they understand who they are as learners and what to do to be successful. Examples of what a metacognitive learner might do include:
In Live Ink: Learning goals are provided at the beginning of each module in the SBs and are written in student-friendly language. Metacognitive questions and activities featured throughout the SBs and the Teacher‚'s Handbooks provide students with opportunities to revisit these goals and consider their strengths and needs as learners.
Critical literacy requires students to question and sometimes challenge a text (whether spoken, written, or visual). It can also encourage them to take social action to redress injustices. Critical-literacy questions students might ask include the following:
In Live Ink: Texts have been chosen to provide students with a variety of viewpoints on relevant issues. Critical-literacy activities are provided in the Student Books and the Teacher‚'s Handbooks.
With the growing interest in the use of digital and online tools in the classroom, it is important to have a common understanding of what we mean when we talk about Web 2.0. Traditional text and media forms, such as books, newspapers, television, radio, and film, communicate in one direction. The audience is broad, and there are relatively few creators. Like traditional text and media forms, many websites and other online resources communicate in only one direction. In contrast, Web 2.0 refers to the group of online and digital tools that allow the user to receive, create, and change content.
Before Web 2.0, users of the Internet were able only to read and receive information. With the advent of email and early social networking tools, they could also write and send information. As the technology improved, the online world became one in which users could share and contribute, collaborate and interact, personalize and accessorize, publish and remix, read and comment, and stream and tag.
Today‚'s students can navigate an online world of wikis, video, and text posts, along with follow-up comments and tags, and Nings and other types of social networking tools. They can bookmark (metadata) and stream web feeds (RSS); share, edit, and manipulate photos; customize web pages and maps; and make use of digital storytelling software and podcasts.
Students are writing and reading full-length novels online, while at the same time constantly communicating in text bites through chat rooms, Twitter, and their cellphones. They can be themselves; they can be anonymous; and they can even reinvent themselves, literally, as an avatar. Web 2.0 represents the opportunity for students to be part of the process; they can be creators, not just consumers.
In Live Ink: The eHandbooks include a wide variety of suggestions for easy ways to incorporate Web 2.0 in the classroom. (The print versions of the Teacher‚'s Handbooks use the logo shown in the margin to indicate when these suggestions are available in the eHandbooks.) Support for Web 2.0 includes suggestions and helpful links for getting students involved with, for example, creating their own blogs and wikis; interacting with other students and teachers through collaborative tools such as backchannel sites; using online animation, audio recording, and presentation tools; and designing web-based slideshows that combine images, text, and video.
The Live Ink Online eKits make use of Web 2.0 to support and engage students through such interactive tools as practice literacy tests and vocabulary games and activities, as well as streaming audio and video. (See www.liveinkonline.ca for further information.)