There are many ways to support students’ development of positive academic behaviors virtually and in-person. “It’s not what you say or do that ultimately matters… It IS what you get the students to do as a result of what you said and did that counts.” Anita Archer.
Research consistently shows that student engagement (on-task, active participation in the lesson) is a positive behavior that has a direct correlation with increased academic achievement for students, as well as decreasing the likelihood of behavioral challenges within the classroom.
OPPORTUNITIES TO RESPOND
Thoughtfully selecting a variety of “Opportunities to Respond” is a proven Tier I method for increasing student engagement for all! Instructional opportunities to respond occur when students are given the chance to answer teacher prompts by way of speaking, writing or doing. In Explicit Instruction Effective and Efficient Teaching, Archer and Hughes note that “if instruction is truly interactive and students are constantly responding, then attention, on-task behavior and learning increase, and behavior challenges decrease.” (Archer & Hughes, 2010. p.131).
We suggest that you choose one or two to introduce, practice and refine, rather than trying to implement many new opportunities to respond too quickly. Always keep in mind that explicitly teaching, practicing, and reinforcing the behavior you are expecting is the way you establish and maintain a positive classroom environment.
Ready to try out a few Writing Opportunities to Respond? How about starting with one or two of these:
WHY CALL ON ONE, WHEN YOU CAN CALL ON ALL?
Hold ALL students to the high expectation of engaging in the learning. Use a version of The Ripple Strategy Total Participation Techniques (Himmele & Himmele, ). When asking any question, or providing a prompt for student responses, whether in person or on-line:
- Provide think-time.
- Expect each student to respond to the question or prompt individually, whether on their own paper, on a whiteboard or through some sort of electronic response system. This holds each student to the same high expectation for thinking and providing an answer. This ensures that students who are less likely to raise their hand participate, are expected to participate, and furthermore, provides you immediate feedback to inform your instruction.
- Next, have students share their responses in pairs or triads (virtually you can use break out rooms of two or three students).
- Finally, have groups hold up their shared response, or at this point you could have a group share out.
If we want ALL students to be active participants in their learning, then we must STOP calling on individual students who raise their hands to answer your questions or prompts in ALL instructional environments. Think about this – who raises their hand first? When you call on a student who knows the answer, how does that help the other students determine the answer, OR help you figure out which students are at mastery and which need more support? What if someone told you that when you use this practice, you are essentially widening the achievement gap? Commit today to holding ALL students to the high expectation of being an active participant in their learning by expecting them to respond. If a question or prompt is important enough to pose to students, then it is important enough for them ALL to have an opportunity to answer.
Archer, A. L., & Hughes, C. A. (2010). Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching (What Works for Special-Needs Learners) (Illustrated ed.). The Guilford Press.
Himmele, P., & Himmele, W. (2017). Total participation techniques: Making every student an active learner. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.