I’ve visited classrooms where the kids were totally engaged and super excited, enthusiastic and were working like crazy.  When I got down to the brass tacks of it all, I realized that they were highly engaged in standards and skills that were at least two grade levels beyond theirs.

What i was reminded of is this: We have to measure the success of a lesson by how engaged they were in grade level or above content.  The content matters as much as the engagement.  For some teachers they feel like they’ve won the full war when they get the engagement up high.  They forget, though, that engagement is the funnel through which the challenging content flows – one can’t live without the other!

When I’m lesson planning, these two questions keep me on track engagement and content-wise:

  1. What is the one thing I want kids to be able to do at the end of this lesson if they learned nothing else?
  2. What will it look like when they’re doing that thing?  (Or another question I’ll ask my self that’s like this is “What behaviors do I need to teach the kids in order for them to be primed and ready to master the content?)