Pedagogy and practice: teaching and learning in secondary schools unit 11: active engagement techniques

Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools Unit 11

What the resource is.    
This twenty five page unit includes a rationale for active engagement, the theory underpinning active engagement, and a series of practical activities to trial in any subject lesson. The unit encourages continuing professional development through reflective practice.

The central claim in the unit is that pupils do not achieve in the short and long term because they are not actively involved in learning.

Active Engagement is defined as cognitive engagement, where learners construct their own learning, this is distinct to quiet compliance with routine tasks (i.e. worksheets) where pupils might be engaged with a task, but not necessarily learning.

The unit is based upon constructivist learning, and the work of Piaget and Vygotsky - these theories are explained and referenced.

The aims of the resource.
The aim of the resource is to develop teachers skills and understanding of how to:

  • Design, organise and set tasks
  • Deploy strategies for active learning
  • Provide support and intervention to ensure pupils make good progress.

Key findings or focus.
The unit describes principles for active engagement and methods to develop active engagement. These two categories confuse strategies with principles. Principles for promoting engagement include challenge, group work, meta cognition, scaffolds and deep learning, whereas developing engagement includes relationships, environment and routines, which are prerequisites not developmental tools.

Four chapters (directed activities related to texts (DARTS), thinking skills, drama, and writing tasks) describe strategies for active engagement. They are short and simple strategies that can be used with immediate effect and minimal preparation with all types of classes.

Little mention is made of specific support strategies, there is an assumption that the strategies offered are open ended and differentiated enough to support diverse learners needs.

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.
This is a credible resource grounded in academic research and practitioner experience. There are some quality issues in its categorisation of principles and strategies, but that aside it offers a selection of tried and tested approaches to engage pupils in their learning.

The implications for ITE tutors/mentors.
This unit would be useful when discussing pedagogical orientations. It would also be a useful resource to ITE students when preparing lessons.

The resource also supports CPD activity with suggestions of collaborative trials, practitioner research, portfolio evidence and reflective practice.

The relevance to ITE students.
This is an important resource for ITE students, raising awareness of the importance of pedagogy - of how we teach anything. It is applicable to all subject areas, and offers insight into how pupils (and they themselves) construct learning. It shifts the attribution of ‘failing pupils' from the pupils, or the teacher to the task, and so empowers and offers hope that we can all raise attainment in our classrooms.

Reviewed by:
Kaz Stuart

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About SEN

Approaches, Differentiation

Type of Resource

For Tutors, Teaching & Learning Materials

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secondary strategy

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