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Active Engagement Strategies for Whole Group Instruction. Sarah Sayko, M. Ed. National Center for Reading First Technical Assistance RMC Research Corp. Sheryl Turner, M.A. Eastern Regional Reading First Technical Assistance Center. Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me,

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active engagement strategies for whole group instruction

Active Engagement Strategies for Whole Group Instruction

Sarah Sayko, M. Ed.

National Center for Reading First Technical Assistance

RMC Research Corp.

Sheryl Turner, M.A.

Eastern Regional Reading First Technical Assistance Center

Tell me,

I forget.

Show me,

I remember.

Involve me,

I understand.

-Ancient Chinese Proverb

what is active engagement
Active engagement refers to the joint functioning of motivation, conceptual knowledge, cognitive strategies, and social interactions in literacy activities.

(Guthrie & Anderson, 1999)

Active learning involves providing opportunities for students to meaningfully talk and listen, write, read, and reflect on the content, ideas, issues and concerns of an academic subject.

(Meyers & Jones, 1993)

What is Active Engagement?
active engagement and motivation
Active Engagement and Motivation

Factors affecting the development of intrinsic motivation in a school setting:

  • Level of challenge offered by tasks and materials
  • Quality and timing of feedback to students about heir work
  • Supports and scaffolds available to learners
  • Students’ interest in tasks and content
  • Nature of the learning context
  • Intrinsically motivated students tend to persist longer, work harder, actively apply strategies, and retain key information more consistently.

Guthrie, McGough, et al., 1996; Guthrie & Van Meter, et al., 1996

active engagement and conceptual knowledge
Active Engagement and Conceptual Knowledge

Engaged readers gain knowledge and experience as they read by continually activating and extending their understanding. They apply knowledge to answer a new question or to solve a problem.

Two methods of activating students’ knowledge building are:

-Self-explanation -Concept mapping

Baker, Dreher, & Guthrie, 2000

active engagement and cognitive strategies
Active Engagement and Cognitive Strategies

Engaged readers use cognitive strategies for integrating information, and communicating and representing their understanding.

Cognitive strategies are procedures that can help students succeed at higher-order tasks. Some strategies are:

-Activating prior knowledge before, during, and after reading


-Monitoring comprehension


Baker, Dreher, & Guthrie, 2000

active engagement and social interaction
Active Engagement and Social Interaction

When children are highly social, sharing their reading and writing frequently, they are likely to be active, interested readers.

Baker, Dreher, & Guthrie, 2000

multiple student teacher interactions
Multiple Student-Teacher Interactions

The most direct way to increase learning rate is by increasing the number of positive, or successful, instructional interactions (PII) per school day.

It is important that students who need extra instruction to gain skill mastery get that instruction in a timely manner.

After initial instruction, teachers need to determine who will benefit from re - teaching or pre - teaching in small group and/or one – on - one.

model of instructional contexts for reading engagement
Model of Instructional Contexts for Reading Engagement

Learning and Knowledge


Social Interaction








Cognitive Strategies

Conceptual Knowledge





Adapted from Guthrie et al. 2000

impact of active engagement
Impact of Active Engagement

High levels of active engagement during lessons are associated with higher levels of achievement and student motivation.

Ryan and Deci, 2000

Research studies have repeated shown that reading in

many classrooms is not designed to provide students with sufficient engaged reading opportunities to promote reading growth.

Simmons, Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes & Hodge, 1995

study results on active engagement
In a study examining the achievement of 792 students in 88 classrooms (grades 1-5) in nine high-poverty schools the researchers found:

A significant, positive correlation between active learning environments and growth in reading comprehension, whereas the correlation was negative in passive learning environments.

(Taylor, Pearson, Peterson, & Rodriguez, 2003)

In a study examining the link between teacher support and student engagement and achievement in the elementary grades, researchers found:

Students with supportive teachers were 89% more likely to be engaged in school than those with average levels of support, and 44% are more likely to have high levels of achievement and commitment than the average student.

(Klem & Connell, 2004)

Study Results on Active Engagement
processing strategy look lean whisper
Processing Strategy:Look-Lean-Whisper
  • Look: Make eye contact with your partner so you know you have his/her attention.
  • Lean: Move heads close together so you can be heard.
  • Whisper: Speak in a soft tone so others can be heard.

Archer & Gleason, 1994

look lean whisper activity
Look-Lean-Whisper Activity

What is active engagement?

What are the outward signs of an engaged learner?

Activity 1

avoid recitation
Avoid Recitation

“Who can tell me…?”

processing strategy 10 2 theory
Processing Strategy: 10:2 Theory

To reduce information loss, pause for two minutes at about ten minute intervals.

For every ten minutes or so of meaningful chunks of new information, students should be provided with two or so minutes to process the information.

Students can respond and discuss their current understanding in various ways.

Rowe, 1983

10 2 reflection activity
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember about active engagement.

characteristics of effective classrooms
Characteristics of Effective Classrooms

High levels of:

  • student cooperation
  • Task involvement
  • Success
characteristics of effective teachers
Characteristics of Effective Teachers
  • Awareness of purpose
  • Task orientation
  • High expectations for students
  • Enthusiastic, clear, and direct
  • Lessons consistently well prepared
  • Students on task
  • Strong classroom management skills
  • Predictable routines
  • Systematic curriculum-based assessment to monitor student progress

Tableman, 2004

10 2 reflection activity21
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember about the effectiveness studies.

In order for active student engagement to occur, teachers need to develop effective classroom management routines.
active engagement and classroom management studies
Active Engagement and Classroom Management Studies
  • Management Styles
  • Rules and Procedures
  • Coping with Constraints
        • Room Arrangement
        • Interruptions
  • Successful managers integrate their classroom rules and procedures into their instruction systematically so that they become part of the curriculum and classroom environment.
classroom management25
Classroom Management

Direct teaching of management routines:

  • Pre-Planning of Routines
  • Teaching Routines
direct teaching
Direct Teaching

Pre-planning of management routines:

  • Room arrangement
    • student seating
    • placement of materials
    • Whole and small group areas
  • Establishing rules and procedures

(ask 3 before me, etc.)

  • Clear expectations
  • Quick transitions (timer, music, chime, countdown)
  • Reduce teacher talk (hand signal, cue)
direct teaching27
Direct Teaching

Teaching Routines Systematically

  • Modeling
  • Practice
  • Review
  • Reinforce
think pair share activity
Think-Pair-Share Activity

1. Take a moment and list the procedures you have used in your classroom.

2. Decide if they are Management or Instructional Routines.

3. Discuss with your neighbor how you taught these routines to your students.

10 2 reflection activity29
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember about classroom management.

In order for active student engagement to occur, teachers need to plan instruction effectively.
deep knowledge of curriculum
Deep Knowledge of Curriculum
  • Five components of reading
  • Instructional content
  • Instructional design
    • Strategies
    • Routines
    • Sequence of Instruction
  • Assessments
knowledge of student assessment results
Knowledge of Student Assessment Results

Assessments provide information for:

  • Initial placement or student screening
  • Progress monitoring throughout the year for whole group and small group instruction
  • Determining individual student needs
  • Formal assessment
consistent instructional routines
Consistent Instructional Routines
  • Reliable and steady.
  • A customary or regular course of procedure.

Consistent routines allow students to become comfortable with the way instruction is taught so that they can concentrate on what is being taught.

focus on instructional objectives
Focus on Instructional Objectives
  • What should students
  • know and be able to
  • Do (objective)?

3. How will I, and they,

know when they are


  • 2. How does this lesson
  • objective fit into the
  • “big picture” of
  • instruction this year?
    • (Introduction of skill, review of skill,
    • introduction of skill at more
    • complex level)

4. What learning

experiences will

facilitate their success?

6. Based on data, how do

I refine the learning


5. What resources will I


task analysis
Task Analysis

Given a task to be accomplished, how do we get there?

What kinds of lessons and practices are needed if

key performances are to be mastered?

  • Is the task valid and worthwhile?
  • What are the skills, knowledge, and understanding that students need to have in order to be successful at moving toward mastery of the standard and completion of the task?
  • Which students have mastered which parts of which skills?
  • Design differentiated instruction which address the various levels of student understanding.


anticipating instructional difficulties for struggling readers
Anticipating Instructional Difficulties for Struggling Readers

Preventionvs. Intervention

  • Who may have difficulty with this objective?
  • How will I monitor learning?
  • What steps will I take to insure all students learn this objective?
examples of anticipating instructional difficulties
Examples of Anticipating Instructional Difficulties
  • A teacher anticipated the inappropriate questions that students might generate. The students read a paragraph followed by three questions on might ask about the paragraph. The students were asked to look at each example and decide whether or not that question was about the most important information in the paragraph. The students discussed whether each question was too narrow, too broad, or appropriate.

(Palincsar, 1987)

  • Students were taught specific rules to discriminate a question from a non-question, and a good question for a poor one. The teacher provided the following statements:

-A good question starts with a question word.

-A good question can be answered by the story.

-A good question asks about an important detail of the story.

(Cohen, 1983)

Handout & Activity

group alertness
Group Alertness


Is what a teacher does to grab the attention of all the students in a group and keep it continuously focused on the learning activity.


examples of group alertness
Examples of Group Alertness
  • Instead of telling students information, the teacher involves her students at every turn. As the students listen to the sounds in fan, they slid their hand from their shoulder to their elbow, then to their wrist and chorally chimed, /fff-aaa-nnn/. For rhymes, the students came up with the words themselves.
  • During making words activities, the students manipulated their own set of letters as the teacher coached, “Let’s do tub. Listen to the middle sounds. It’s not tab, it’s not tob. It’s /ttt-uuu-bbb/. You need a letter for /u/.
  • When the class couldn’t answer a question about how a character had changed, the teacher suggested that they search the book for a clue instead of telling them the answer.

Handout 6 Activity 6

work smarter not harder
Work Smarter, Not Harder

Do not commit


(A. Archer)

A. Archer


10 2 reflection activity42
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember about instructional planning.

In order for active student engagement to occur, teachers need to delivery instruction effectively.
active engagement and direct instruction
Active Engagement and Direct Instruction

Explicit and systematic teaching does not preclude the use

of active engagement strategies.

In fact, one of the most prominent features of

well delivered direct instruction is high levels

of active engagement on the part of all students.

primary components of interactive direct instruction
Primary Components of Interactive Direct Instruction
  • Teacher - directed learning.
    • Teacher serves as the instructional leader for students, actively selecting and directing or leading the learning activities.
  • High levels of teacher-student interaction.
    • Students spend their time interacting with the teacher either individually or as part of a group as opposed to spending most of their time in independent study or seatwork.
interactive direct instruction pattern of teaching
Interactive Direct Instruction: Pattern of Teaching
  • Teacher checks previous day’s assignment.
  • Teacher selects instructional goals and materials, and structures the learning activities for high levels of student engagement.
  • Teacher actively teaches the process or concept through demonstrations and interactive discussions with students.
  • Teacher assesses student progress through follow-up questions and/or practice exercises in which students have the opportunity to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge or skills.
  • Teacher provides immediate corrective feedback to student responses.
  • Provide independent student practice of skill.
  • Provide weekly and monthly reviews.


zone of proximal development
Zone of Proximal Development


The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or collaboration with more capable peers.


The area within which the student cannot proceed alone, but can proceed to learn when guided by a teacher or an expert peer who has demonstrated mastery of the skill.

Rosenshine & Meister

zone of proximal development teacher s role
Zone of Proximal Development:Teacher’s Role

The teacher’s role is to assist the students in moving through the zone to become expert users of their new knowledge and skills.



Temporary devices and procedures used by teachers to support students as they learn strategies.

scaffolding learning gradual release of responsibility model
1. 2. 3. 4.Scaffolding LearningGradual Release of Responsibility Model
  • This graphic is based on work by Pearson and Gallagher (1983). In a later study, Fielding and Pearson (1994) identified four components of instruction that follow the path of the gradual release of responsibility model:
  • Teacher Modeling
  • Guided Practice
  • Independent Practice
  • Application.

Teacher Responsibility

Student Responsibility

C. Eisenhart

tips for effective scaffolding
Tips for Effective Scaffolding
  • Anticipate student errors
  • Conduct teacher guided practice
  • Provide feedback
  • Recognize when it is appropriate to fade scaffolds
types of scaffolding
Types of Scaffolding
  • Prompts: specific devices that can be employed for learning an overall cognitive strategy-something that students can refer to for assistance while working on the larger task. (graphic organizers, cue cards, checklists)
  • Think Alouds: teacher’s direct modeling of the strategy, including self-talk, that enables students to begin experiencing the strategy as a authentic set of behaviors/actions that can be learned to used to their advantage.
processing strategy tell help check
Processing Strategy: Tell-Help-Check
  • Tell: Partner 1 turns to partner 2 and recall information without using notes.
  • Help: Partner 2 listens carefully and asks questions and gives hints about missing or incorrect information.
  • Check: Both partners consult notes to confirm accuracy.

A. Archer

tell help check activity
Tell-Help-Check Activity

Name the pattern of teaching for interactive direct instruction.

wait time
Wait Time

Slowing down the questioning pace can actually speed up the pace of learning.

Pause for 3-5 seconds before calling on students to answer questions and before responding to their answers.

Wait time during questioning results in:

  • Students asking more questions
  • An increase in student to student interaction
  • An increase in length and number of student responses
  • Contributions from struggling readers
  • A decreased need for management because all students are engaged
  • The teacher asking more higher level questions and follow-up questions
corrective feedback activity
Corrective Feedback Activity

Share a time with your partner

when you received feedback.

What was the feedback?

corrective feedback is crucial
Corrective Feedback is Crucial

One of the chief benefits of active engagement is that it allows us to give corrective feedback.

Characteristics of effective feedback:

  • Highly specific
  • Descriptive
  • Timely
  • Ongoing

Feedback is not praise, blame, approval, or disapproval. That is what evaluation is – placing value. Feedback is value neutral. It describes what you did and did not do in terms of your goal. (intent vs. effect)

the feedback link
The Feedback Link
  • Correction can’t happen without feedback
  • Feedback can’t happen without monitoring
  • Monitoring can’t happen without student responses through active engagement
conceptual framework for corrective feedback
Conceptual Framework for Corrective Feedback

Explicit Instruction

-Skill taught in a direct manner

-“I do, we do, you do” procedure

-Corrective feedback

“I do, we do, you do” Procedure

-Teacher models skill

-Teacher responds with student

-Student responds on own

Student Demonstrates Understanding

Student Does Not Demonstrate Understanding


-Firm up understanding by repeating the series of items preceding item and then item to provide repeated practice

-Delayed check: teacher checks group/student understanding on item at later time in lesson

Corrective Feedback

-Directed toward group of students

-Repeat “I do, we do, you do” procedure

-Firm up understanding by repeating the series of items preceding error and then error item to provide repeated practice

-Delayed check: teacher checks group/student understanding on error item at later time in lesson

Student Error on Delayed Check

-Teacher corrects error again

-Firm up understanding by repeating the series of items preceding error and then error item to provide repeated practice

-Teacher keeps track of student errors for reteaching and practice the next day

-Several delayed checks may be given during a lesson for repeated practice

time on task
Time on Task
  • Allocated Time
  • Engaged Time
  • Academic Learning Time
  • Interruptions


perky pace
Perky Pace
  • Instructional time variance
  • Transitions
  • Momentum
some interesting facts
Some Interesting Facts

Students are not attentive to what is being said in a lecture 40% of the time.

Students retain 70% of the information in the first ten minutes of a lecture but only 20% in the last ten minutes.

Meyer & Jones, 1993

10 2 reflection activity64
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember on instructional delivery.

examples of active engagement
Examples of Active Engagement
  • Instead of telling students information, the teacher involves her students at every turn. As the students listen to the sounds in fan, they slid their hand from their shoulder to their elbow, then to their wrist and chorally chimed, /fff-aaa-nnn/. For rhymes, the students came up with the words themselves.
  • During making words activities, the students manipulated their own set of letters as the teacher coached, “Let’s do tub. Listen to the middle sounds. It’s not tab, it’s not tob. It’s /ttt-uuu-bbb/. You need a letter for /u/.
  • When the class couldn’t answer a question about how a character had changed, the teacher suggested that they search the book for a clue instead of telling them the answer.

Handout & Activity

types of student responses
Types of Student Responses
  • Oral Group responses (choral)

-students are looking at teacher

-students are looking at their own text/paper

  • Oral Partner responses

-management: look-lean-whisper

-review content: tell-help-check

-brainstorm: think-pair-share

  • Oral Individual responses

-Have students share answers with partners, then call on a student.

-Ask a question, give silence signal, provide think time, then call on a student.

A. Archer

types of responses con t
Types of Responsescon’t
  • Individual responses (written)

-keep short

-turn paper/put pencil down to indicate completion

-graphic organizers

  • Physical responses

-act out

-hand signals/body movements

-response cards

A. Archer

response strategy signal cards
Response Strategy:Signal Cards

A good place to start is with red, green, and yellow cards which have universal meaning.

Students can signal:

  • “Stop, I’m lost!” or “Slow down, I’m getting confused” or “Full steam ahead!”
  • One syllable, two syllables, three syllables
  • Short vowel sound, long vowel sound

Students signal their responses to questions, “If you think it is a ___, signal 1.” “If you think…”

Variation: Thumbs up, thumbs down

processing strategy clock buddies
Processing Strategy: Clock Buddies
  • Students are given a graphic with slots for ten to twelve “appointments.”
  • At each slot, two students record each other’s name.
  • Whenever the teacher announces a time for students to process learning, a partnership is identified and students meet with their partner.

This sign in period takes about 4-5 min. and provides an efficient way for students to interact over weeks.

phonemic awareness cognitive strategy bead counting
Phonemic Awareness Cognitive Strategy: Bead Counting


  • To assist students in blending and segmenting phonemes.


  • Make individual bead strings with six beads on a long cord.
  • String the beads on the cord and tie a knot at the end.
  • Call out a word card from a deck of word cards.
  • Have students use their bead counters to count the number of phonemes in the word.

Variation: Stack unifix cubes, use bingo chips with Elkonin Boxes,

Finger/body tapping, etc.

Lane & Pullen, 2004


Phonics Cognitive Strategy:Word Pockets

  • Purpose:
  • To assist students in word building.
  • Process:
  • Distribute word pockets and letter cards to students.
  • Use large pocket chart to model word building procedure.
  • Students build words using their letter cards and individual word
  • pockets.

Letter cards

m, s, e, d, t




Lane & Pullen, 2004

fluency cognitive strategy choral reading
Fluency Cognitive Strategy: Choral Reading


  • To build reading fluency and maximize the amount of reading done per student.


  • The entire class reads one text completely and in unison.
alternatives to choral reading
Alternatives to Choral Reading


  • One student reads most of the text, and the whole group chimes in to read key segments chorally.


  • Each student reads individually one or two lines of a text, usually from a rhyme or poem, and the whole group reads the final line or lines together.

Antiphonal Reading:

  • Divide the class into groups and assign a section of a text to each group. Then have one of the groups read its section while the rest of the class read other sections, usually in chorus or refrain.

Call and Response:

  • One student reads a line or two of a text and the rest of the class responds by repeating the lines or reading the next few lines or the refrain.

Rasinski, 2003

vocabulary cognitive strategy list group label
Vocabulary Cognitive Strategy: List-Group-Label


  • To active prior knowledge, stimulate thinking, and set a purpose for learning.


  • The students start with an array of words and work to group them and then label the categories.
  • Students discuss and compare their categories before reading and then confirm or revise their thoughts after reading.
  • Students share out their categories to the larger group.

The teacher may prepare the list of words for students to work with or give students the topic, have them brainstorm words that they associate with the topic, and work with that list.

comprehension cognitive strategy anticipation guide
Comprehension Cognitive Strategy:Anticipation Guide
  • Teacher prepares several declarative statements about a topic.
  • Before reading, students discuss the statements, agreeing or disagreeing with them and supporting their views with reasons.
  • The teacher remains a neutral facilitator; encouraging debate and asking probing questions that require students to think carefully about their views.
  • After reading, students discuss the statements again, revising their responses in light of what they learned.

Herber & Herber, 1993

review strategy i have the question who has the answer
Review Strategy: I Have the Question, Who Has the Answer?


  • Two sets of index cards, one set contains questions related to the learned skill, the second set contains the answers.

Hint: To keep students engaged, prepare more answer cards than question cards.


  • Distribute answer cards to students.
  • Read one question card and say, “The question is ___ Who has the answer?”
  • All students check their answer cards to see if they have the correct answer or a possible one. If a student thinks he/she has an answer, she stands and reads the answer.
active engagement teaching strategies
Active Engagement Teaching Strategies
  • Reciprocal Teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1989)
  • Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) (Fuchs et al., 1997)
  • Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) (Greenwood, Del quadri, & Hall, 1989)
  • Questioning the Author (QtA) (Beck et al., 1996)
  • Skim, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQ3R)


10 2 reflection activity80
10:2 Reflection Activity

Record on your 10:2 reflection sheet the key ideas you want to remember on active engagement strategies.


In Summary

Studies on effective teachers have clearly established that interactive direct instruction is more effective in producing student achievement gains. Students learn best when the teacher is actively teaching and interacting with students.

(AFT, 2001)

Teacher knowledge and skill can make the difference between a student who is successful in school and one who is not.

(Ferguson, 1991)

What teachers know and can do makes the crucial difference in what children learn. Teaching is the most important element of successful learning.

(Darling-Hammond, L.)


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Thank You