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Engaging Students in Meaningful Learning with the EPiC™ Support Dashboard

In the realm of education, an orderly classroom might give the illusion of engaged students, but the truth is far more complicated. True engagement goes beyond mere compliance; it involves immersing students in the content, making learning meaningful, and fostering critical thinking skills. Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) play a pivotal role in equipping future teachers with the tools and strategies necessary to achieve this level of engagement.

The EPiC™ Key Assessment, particularly its Rubric A-3 Engaging Students in Learning, underscores the importance of instructional strategies that immerse students in the content. This rubric emphasizes not only the utilization of instructional strategies but also the ability to foster real-world connections, collaboration, active learning, and reflection. 

One of the essential components of effective engagement, as highlighted in sub-category A-3.1 Lesson Interactions of the EPiC™ Part A Scoring Tool, is creating an environment where students willingly participate and are genuinely engaged in the learning process. This involves designing lessons that bridge prior knowledge with new concepts, ensuring clarity in references to prior learning experiences, and cultivating a positive, respectful, and safe classroom environment.

With an easy-to-use set of “look-fors”, the evidenced-based scoring tool helps EPPs assess teacher candidates' proficiency in this area. Using this tool, EPPs can provide targeted feedback on student engagement to teacher candidates as part of a continuous improvement plan or as a final portfolio. The tool includes three subsections of evidence for Rubric A-3 that list specific markers for scoring a candidate’s video/analysis submission for evidence of student engagement. Below are the evidence markers for A-3.1 Lesson Interactions.

The evidence collected on the EPiC™ Part A Scoring Tool allows EPPs to offer specific feedback to candidates who are struggling with student engagement. EPPs may recommend that a candidate explore practical, easy-to-implement engagement strategies such as: 

  1. Swapping traditional content review lectures for engaging review strategies such as game show reviews (e.g., Jeopardy!, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Deal or No Deal), partner reviews (e.g., flash cards, Turn and Talk, peer reviews), scavenger hunt reviews, or rotating review stations.

  2. Employing a variety of collaborative discussion techniques (e.g., See-Think-Wonder, Talk Moves, Conver-Stations, Think-Pair-Share) to elevate the level of complex thinking relating to the content. 

  3. Incorporating structured opportunities for students to generate their own questions and promote divergent thinking on a topic by using questioning strategies such as wonder journals, SQPL questions, jigsaw questioning, or question concept maps.

  4. Utilizing online simulations that allow students to manipulate the variables, graph the data, analyze and interpret the results, and form their own generalizations (e.g., PHeT Labs, Teach Chemistry Simulations) about the content.

  5. Promoting audience participation strategies that elevate the level of engagement during student-led presentations with such as those found in the Student Audience Toolkit (e.g., participation rubric, response placemat, presentation concept map, response survey).

The coaching tools at the EPiC™ Support Dashboard offer additional support for candidates struggling with student engagement. EPPs are encouraged to recommend the included PD Bytes™ online courses for candidates who need additional coaching on student engagement strategies such as the How to Involve a Student Audience PD Byte. This self-led, skill-based course spotlights effective classroom strategies and provides teacher candidates with a variety of student engagement resources that can be implemented immediately.

Fostering student engagement goes beyond surface-level participation; it entails deeply involving students in the content, connecting it to real-world contexts, and nurturing critical thinking skills. EPPs play a pivotal role in preparing teachers to implement strategies that promote meaningful learning experiences. By utilizing tools like the EPiC™ Key Assessment and leveraging practical coaching strategies, EPPs can empower teacher candidates to create dynamic, engaging classrooms that inspire lifelong learning in students.

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