Personally, I feel that content engagement is very important and purposefully plan lessons that are content rich and engaging as can be! If I am having fun teaching it, they are having fun learning it. If it is engaging, then they are looking, listening, participating, and excited to learn. Students WANT to be engaged and excited about what they are learning, just like you do if you happen to go to an all day professional development presentation. (We have all been there!)
If your lessons are engaging, meaningful, and content rich, you more than likely will not have to spend so much extra time with a group of students during small group because they were so impacted with knowledge from the whole group lesson! Now do not think that just because 18 students are having the time of their lives during your whole group lesson that there aren't those 1 or 2 students that are just not getting into what you are teaching. This is where you have to be engaging in other/multiple ways to make sure you are engaging these 1 or 2 students as well.
As an innovative teacher, you should plan your lessons to be engaging. Not only for the sake of getting students to learn the content or objective, but this will help you out with your classroom management as well. Students who are typically bored may tend to show that they are not into the lesson in other ways, such as disrupting the class. If these students are engaged in the lesson, chances are they are not bored and not finding other ways to get your attention to show you they are bored.
In your classroom, a teacher should be demonstrating content engagement in a variety of ways. When focusing on the TEM and observations, you want to make sure your lesson and activities:
• are aligned to the lesson objectives and have a clear and intentional purpose.
- If your objective is Animal Habitats and all of a sudden you have this amazing, fun, and engaging lesson about frogs and how they change from eggs to tadpoles to frogs, that is not clearly aligned with the objective of different habitats. Make sure it is aligned to the objective! (TEACH 1- Objective Driven Lesson)
• are centered with whole group and small group in order to have a variety of approaches for the students to be engaged with the content as well as for you to have a variety of ways to assess the students.
• are differentiated! During your whole group lesson, questions can easily be differentiated based on the learner and where they are as far as knowledge of the content. Scaffold the questions and use various differentiated techniques in order to push them as well as to check for understanding.
• are allowing ALL (not 19/20) students to apply and demonstrate knowledge of the content.
• are modeling the expectations of the activities for the students first and you are modeling how to use 2 or more problem-solving strategies that you imbedded within the activities for the students. These problem-solving strategies include:
-drawing conclusions/justifying solutions
-observing and experimenting
-identifying relevant/irrelevant information
-creating and designing
• are explaining or demonstrating these strategies, are highly engaged, discussing and working with one another, and are allowed a self-selected way or a choice in how THEY want to demonstrate understanding to you.
Last but not least, make it fun!!!