Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Student Engagement Eye-Opener

Imagine it's a mid-year school day.  School begins promptly at 8 am, but with a one-hour early release at 2 pm.  But, there is one major adjustment for the schedule of the day.  Each student will report to one class and remain in that class ALL DAY LONG.  In addition, students will report to a course in which they have failed previously.

To many teachers and administrators, this scenario probably sounds more like a bad dream than anything close to a "regular" school day.  I envision a meeting with our teachers, where the above schedule is communicated, and the consequential comments:

"I am going to be stuck with the same students all day?!?"

"What am I supposed to do with my class for six hours?!?"

"There is no way my students are going to be on-task for that long...it's unrealistic!!!"

As an assistant principal, I would probably have the same concerns.  I can only imagine the buzz in the room after I communicate my expectation for students to be ON-TASK and ENGAGED for the entire day.

But let me tell you this:  I have seen it happen!

Today, we began our Summer Course Recovery session at Ashbrook High School.  Our students are using PLATO to recover a course failed this past semester.  They are required to have at least 60 hours of seat time and complete all necessary modules with the required mastery on assessments in the program.  At the end of the program, they will not receive a grade, but rather the credit for the course.

I have been blown away by how on-task and engaged these students have been all day long.  They received a ten-minute break at 9:30 am and a 25-minute lunch at 11:30 am.  Only occasionally has a student asked to use the restroom or get some water.  Believe it or not, the students have been completely engaged on their respective modules the entire time.  Keep in mind, every student is here because they failed the respective course, which include Algebra II and Geometry.  We are not talking about a student completing an independent study of Advanced Placement European History on Virtual HS.  And yes, I circulate to make sure they are actually on PLATO.

I believe this is an enormous indicator of how the environment of today's students learn has changed.  I would never expect a classroom teacher to be able to keep a student engaged for over five hours, in the same classroom, in the same seat, on the same subject, with zero behavioral issues.  But, after today, I have discovered that online virtual learning can.

Is this the direction where education is headed to keep students engaged for six hours?

Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @CSmithGoBlue.


Craig Smith

The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith     and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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