Gainesville, Virginia schools have been searching for ways to boost student engagement and involvement in the classroom. The Bay County School District* recently noticed that many teachers were not including text-dependent questions into their literature discussions or post-reading activities, despite providing a professional development session earlier in the year. Isabel, an experienced educator who has worked as a principal instructor in Albemarle County public schools and as an educational coordinator in schools in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, has been giving advice to numerous school districts on creating models of change and collaborative professional learning structures, particularly to modify literacy. He holds a degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on teacher training and professional learning, and a master's degree in reading education from the University of Florida. To motivate student participation and community in the classroom, teachers have been recommended to take small, achievable steps.
One of these steps is to use a centralized Zoom option, along with other classroom technologies. This allows students to build relationships with their classmates both for peer-to-peer learning and if they are not present. In courses with attendance responsibility, students are more likely to attend in person and only “zoom in” if absolutely necessary. Educators Rising clubs are active in most PWCS high schools for students from 9th to 12th grade, and the program continues to expand each year. Canvas analyses of observed classes show that students who do not attend class in person (or synchronously) are most likely NOT watching the recordings. Gainesville, Virginia schools have been successful in encouraging student engagement and participation through the use of text-dependent questions, centralized Zoom options, and other classroom technologies.
Educators Rising clubs have also been essential in helping students develop relationships with their classmates for peer-to-peer learning. By taking small, achievable steps such as these, teachers can create an atmosphere that encourages student participation and community.