Engaging kids in learning

The video from Mimi Ito is so clarifying when it comes to understanding how kids are learning nowadays. She seems to be very sure about how teachers and parents and the whole community should approach learning. It’s a question of taking advantage of the opportunities, which are constantly popping up in front of us

Kids like to hang out with each other and socialize, so there is an opportunity right there for learning. Kids want to geek out and mess around, therefore there is an opportunity for learning. They are posting and commenting on social media and, yes, once again, another opportunity to learn.


My research took me to this web page, where the NCTE states the interesting Opportunity-to-Learn Standards. It states that students have the right to achieve their full potential by focusing and building upon the strengths of learners. The standards can help ensure equitable access to high-quality education taking in consideration the diverse, multiple ways students learn. How interesting should this be if it would be respected in all educational institutions?



During the past two years, I’ve been a member of a committee in my school which is in a task force to help the students become more engaged in learning. As a result of the MSA accreditation process, the Leaders of Their Own Learning Committee was created. This committee was based on the ideas from the book of Ron Berger, who states that student-engaged assessment encourages students to become more engaged in learning.

Berger’s ideas are reiterated by Tina Barseghian, who affirms schools should be designed to be wildly relevant for learners, their engagement, and their development. Both of them emphasize the importance of having students in the center of learning, to become problem-solvers, innovative and resilient. Project-based learning is one of the most engaging methods to achieve those goals because it takes into consideration what is meaningful and interesting to students. This way, they become part of the process and opportunities for learning are being created all the time.

Teachers have to be more sensitive and observe more in order to take advantage of those moments when they arise. Sometimes, we are attached to our curriculum and we just let an opportunity to learn slip in front of our eyes. Other times, we do realize and ignore it, in order not to bother what it seems to be the natural course of things (A.K.A. curriculum). On the other hand, we are missing a great opportunity to engage students in an interesting conversation and/or discussion, which could approximate them to the content. In a blink of an eye, kids could be identifying themselves to the subject, which makes it much more meaningful to them.

3 thoughts on “Engaging kids in learning

  1. Profile photo of Ryan HarwoodRyan Harwood

    Love the idea of Leaders of Their Own Learning committee. I’m curious if there are students on the committee? We have an idea at LCS of “Independent Lincoln Learners” that is constantly under discussion. it seems difficult to pin down exactly what that means. Even students seemed to have a bit of difficulty with it when they were part of a panel. Engagement is certainly a key. We’ve all seen the difference in students who find a topic interesting, as opposed to those who are just following along. I’d love to hear more about how your committee and school are tacking this issue.

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  3. Profile photo of Andy RichardsonAndy Richardson

    I taught at Avalon School in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA for a few years. link to avalonschool.org The school is project based and is attractive to many students because they can approach learning in different ways. To graduate from school in Minnesota you have to meet all the state required standards but there are infinite possibilities for the ways you choose to approach the standard. As a teacher and advisor it was up to us to meet with students and have them show us or discuss with us how they would like to design projects to meet the standards. For many students this worked well for others it was always a struggle. What was interesting was that after spending several years at the school students reported increasing and higher sense of autonomy and “hope” than peers in other schools as measured by the Hope Survey link to hopesurvey.org The research behind the Hope Survey is from Martin Seligman link to authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu and his ideas about positive psychology. I think it dovetails nicely with your post and the idea of having Leaders of their own Learning.


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