How do you engage middle and secondary learners? With the premise that learners need to be doing the cognitive work in the classroom, learning sequences should be open-ended, collaborative, and accessible to all. Several cross-curricular examples are provided.
Features of High-Engagement Learning
• available supply of appropriately diﬃcult texts
• opAons that allow students more control over
the texts to be read and the work to be
• the collaboraAve nature of much of the work
• the opportunity to discuss what was read and
• the meaningfulness of the acAviAes
• Allington & Johnston, 2002; Presley, 2002; Wigﬁeld, 1997; Almasi & McKeown, 1996;
Background knowledge has a greater impact on
being able to read a text than anything else.
-Doug Fisher, Richard Allington
• Universal Design for Learning
• Backwards Design
• Low ﬂoor, high ceiling
Grade 9 Science – Starleigh Grass &
• The Challenge:
• Many of the students are disengaged and
dislike ‘book learning’. They acquire more
knowledge, concept and skill when they are
acAve, collaboraAve and reading in chunks.
• Starleigh and Mindy in It’s All about Thinking (Math and Science), 2011.
• If we understand how materials hold and
transfer electric charge, can we store and
move electric charge using common
• Individually, brainstorm what you can recall
about the characterisAcs of an atom.
• Meet in groups of 3 to add to and revise your
• Compare this list to the master list.
• …(word derivaAons, label an atom…)
• Exit slip: 2 characterisAcs you want to
remember about atoms.
• All maDer is made of atoms.
• Atoms have electrons, neutrons, and protons. Electrons
move, protons and neutrons do not move.
• Atoms have negaAve and posiAve charges.
• Electrons have a negaAve charge; protons have a posiAve
• Protons and neutrons are located at the centre of the atom,
in the nucleus.
• Electrons orbit around the outside of the nucleus, in energy
• An object can be negaAvely or posiAvely charged,
depending on the raAo of protons and neutrons.
Choice Novels &
Entry points for
Dave Giesbrecht, Richmond
Nancy Sharkey, Librarian
– I can analyze ﬁcAon for common elements and explain how they
help to develop the story and message of the novel.
– I can prepare for and parAcipate in small group discussions to
• My understanding of the novel
• My ability to communicate my thinking
– I can demonstrate and deepen my understanding of
• The novel I read its context
• The issues facing children in other parts of the world
• Empathy – what it is and how it is developed
• How is the world where the story is set
diﬀerent from your world?
• How do human development issues aﬀect the
characters and society in your novel and how
does this relate to the world?
• How do discussions circles help you develop
The Plan: starting
• Introduced and selected books.
• Modeled the types of thinking to use while
reading with a shared text, “Thank You
Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. Created group
The Plan: working in groups
• Students worked twice a week for 3 weeks.
• Groups created their own reading plan.
• Arer each 20 minute literature discussion,
students completed one of:
– Hot Seat
– Double Entry Journal
– CSI (colour, symbol, image – Making Thinking
Visible – Richart)
• Reading response based on a quesAon generated by
the group and a personal response/recommendaAon
of the novel.
• Group presentaAon on context of the novel and how
this impacts their character.
– Research on real world context of novel
– Chose 3 most signiﬁcant factors from the sesng that
aﬀected characters and their quality of life
• Ongoing feedback and addiAonal instrucAon based on
conversaAons, observaAons, and products created
during the 3 weeks.
Test Prep – Socials 11
Canada in the 1930’s with Melanie Mattson
• People Search – 12 boxes
• Students made notes for each quesAon
• Coached and listened to see if there were any
• 2 quesAons were most challenging
• Melanie explained her ‘answer’ to each, using a
Ameline and associaAons
• 2 addiAonal areas to study
– With a concept map
– With a chart
Canada in the 1930’s
People Search Find someone who:
…can describe 3
diﬀerences between life in
the city and life in rural
Canada during the Great
…can paint a vivid picture
with words of relief camps
…can tell the story of the
beginning of the labour
movement in Canada
communism, and fascism
in the 1930’s
Test Prep – Math 10
Measurement with Jennifer Paziuk
• People Search
• Inside/Outside Circle