Student Engagement Strategy: Make Learning Public
I really struggled during my first year teaching 10th grade global history in the Bronx. My students were not engaged, and many were downright resistant. About halfway through the year, I had the idea to hold a history fair, modeled on the National History Day competition. I imagined something similar to the middle school science fairs I experienced as a student, with the library or cafeteria filled with students showing off weeks of work.
With support from my principal, I dropped everything I had planned for my course to concentrate on the fair. During the following weeks, my previously disengaged students worked harder than they ever had before. The Saturday before our school fair, nearly half my students came in to work on their projects. The night before, I had to kick a dozen students out of my classroom at 8 p.m.
At this first fair, more than 90 percent of my students presented successful research papers, documentaries, and exhibits to an audience of older students, community members, and parents. Before that, I never had more than 50 percent of my students complete...
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