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Empowered By Choice – Student Engagement Series

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November 2011

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Today I had the privilege of sitting in on five different lessons.  My purpose was to observe teachers who are in the process of integrating technology into their curriculum.  What I love to pay attention to, during these times, is the level of student engagement.  My favorite lesson was the last of the day in a Fire class at the Career and Technical Education Center.  These students are in their fifth week of a project-based learning (PBL) unit on the risks firefighters face in their professions.  The students are all upperclassmen, and all chose this class as an elective.  They are working with a partner, and some of the problems they have been researching and trying to solve, involve depression/suicide rates, PTSD, and increased risk of developing colon cancer among firefighters.  Today they began the class in an online discussion forum, then they reviewed the student-created rubric for the project, the presentation dates, and then work time.  This was a 90-minute class, and the best part was that these boys (yes – all boys!) were engaged and actively working the entire period.  The reason? They chose to be in this class, they chose  their partners, they chose the problem they wanted to research, and they even chose what they wanted to be on their evaluation rubric.  These are students who look forward to coming to class each day.  Their voices are being heard, and they are driving their own learning.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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