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Maximizing Engagement of All Learners
Workshop #: CECO-24


Course Description:

As teachers begin teaching within the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) framework they will quickly recognize an even greater emphasis needs to be placed on student engagement. There is widespread recognition that teachers are tasked with creating favorable learning conditions for a diverse population of learners. Teaching within the CCSS framework requires teachers to create equity of outcomes as well as equity of access to learning. In order for teachers to move deeper into teaching within the CCSS it is important that they develop a solid understanding of the underlying principles of the CCSS and how maximizing student engagement is an essential part of teaching effectively within the Common Core State Standards.

To maximize engagement for all learners, teachers will learn the importance of recognizing the “achievement gap” is widened by an “engagement gap” at the individual student level. Course participants will learn that teachers and learners may view engagement through the lens of different enduring questions. When answering the enduring questions of learners, teachers will learn how to avoid various engagement traps. An important aspect of maximization will be to assess students with regard to their own orientation toward growth as learners. The negative implications of students holding a fixed view of their own potential as learners will be juxtaposed against a learning mindset that helps increase student willingness to take risks. The connection between students embracing an expandable view of their ability followed by teacher use of prescriptive teacher feedback will be made.

Throughout the course teachers will have opportunities to reflect on their own cycle of inquiry and demonstrate an impact on the achievement of students through engagement. In doing this, a number of factors will be considered including how universal design for learning principles can help address barriers within the learning conditions. The rationale for personalization through a continuous cycle of re-engagement for teachers and students will be provided. Teacher reflection strategies to guide interpretation of both overt and covert student disengagement will provide teachers an opportunity to implement what they are learning.

This course has been designed with the goal of (1) providing a framework which operationally defines engagement and promotes the value of maximizing engagement for all learners (2) provides research-based principles in which teachers can anchor their practices and (3) the characteristics of engagement-minded practices which both teachers and students will find motivating to implement that will leverage the efforts of both teacher-students. The educational literature increasingly underscores the importance of professionals understanding, anticipating and responding to the needs of students so that quality engagement is the predominant experience of students.

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Summarize the current need for personalization within a standards-based system
  • Be able to define the difference between the “achievement gap” and the “engagement gap.”
  • Articulate why what teachers do (“teaching”) and what students do (“learning”) are not equivalent.
  • Understand the need for developing a gauge for engagement
  • Recognize why maximizing engagement for all learners requires extensive interactions with learners
  • Apply a number of potential pitfalls related to engagement (gaps, traps, wraps, and naps)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the need to formulate an engagement hypothesis
  • Review current research on the role of emotions in learning
  • Develop awareness of elements of a brain-friendly learning environment
  • Distinguishing between “good stress” and “bad stress” levels that impact learning
  • Comprehend the role of fear for learners and strategies to help mitigate fear
  • Understand the elements of and a rationale for a student engagement self-reflection tool
  • Articulate the enduring questions for both teachers and learners and the pivotal nature of students’ enduring questions
  • Identification of the features of a cycle of inquiry and the importance of using one to increase student engagement
  • Conceptualize success in teaching as interdependent with success of learners
  • Recognize the importance of connecting with students to develop strong teacher-student relationships
  • List characteristics of learning environments that alter the odds against or in favor of learning
  • Demonstrate understanding that a teacher’s role is multi-faceted as an advocate, buffer and catalyst within the learning environment.
  • Delineate the characteristics of a fixed ability mindset and an expandable ability mindset
  • Recognize how a growth-minded approach is integral to maximizing engagement for all learners regardless of academic achievement levels
  • Implement a teacher reflection strategy to determine whether student orientation is toward a fixed or expandable view of ability
  • Prepare a lesson or unit of instruction on the growth mindset for an entire class
  • Link the key teacher behavior of providing prescriptive feedback with the need for learners to receive informative communication during their learning process
  • Learn steps to providing effective prescriptive feedback.
  • Recognize the research base that suggests particular kinds of praise can actually decrease engagement
  • Understand the benefits of providing prescriptive feedback
  • Understand the significance of encouraging student ownership of data about their own performance
  • Learn several methods for providing students opportunities to reflect on their own performance data over time
  • Describe the statements that may be typical of myths associated with engagement
  • Reflect on any overlap between current practice and engagement myths
  • Understand the role of behavior as a language for learners trying to get unmet needs through their behavior
  • Recognize the covert and overt aspects of behavior and the challenges each can present for teachers maximizing engagement
  • Reflect on course content and applications to current teaching context
  • Create an engagement map to guide future learning interests

Student Expectations:

This online course is experiential and interactive. Participants will engage in a variety of activities to learn, practice, and apply the skills outlined in the course. This will include workbook exercises, short answers that are reviewed by a moderator, quizzes, the development of written lessons using differentiated strategies, classroom implementation of these strategies, and analysis of both the lesson and the students’ response to the lesson. A final exam is also a part of the course. Participation in all of these areas is necessary for students to successfully complete the course with a passing grade.


Upon completion of the course, students can decide if they would like to receive credit and from which university they would like to receive credit. Please see University Affiliations under the Information Center for the cost per credit.

Content Outline/Topics

  • Lesson 1: Maximizing Student Engagement
    • 1 Introduction
    • 1.a Framing Student Engagement
    • 1.b Understanding Personalization
    • 1.c Start Where Your Learners Are
  • Lesson 2: There is an Engagement Gap to Bridge
    • 2.a There is an Engagement Gap to Bridge
    • 2.b Maxims or Myths?
    • 2.c How Engagement Helps Define Us
    • 2.d Toward a Working Definition of Engagement
  • Lesson 3: Formulating an Engagement Hypothesis
    • 3.a Formulating an Engagement Hypothesis
    • 3.b The Engagement Apps (Applications)
    • 3.c The Engagement Trap
    • 3.d Avoiding the Engagement Trap
    • 3.e Creating an Engagement Map
    • 3.f The Engagement Landscape
  • Lesson 4: The Teacher’s Role: Engaging the Learner to Self-Engage
    • 4.a The Teacher’s Role: Engaging the Learner to Self-Engage
    • 4.b Emotions and Learning
    • 4.c What You Can Do To Drive Out Fear
    • 4.d The Enduring Questions About Engagement
  • Lesson 5: The Importance of School Connectedness
    • 5.a The Importance of School Connectedness
    • 5.b Data Suggests That Relationships Matter
    • 5.c Why Strive to Maximize Engagement for All Learners?
  • Lesson 6: Growth-minded Engagement
    • 6.a Growth-minded Engagement
    • 6.b Paying Attention to Intelligence
    • 6.c Paying Attention to Effort
    • 6.d Preparing to Teach Students to Maximize Their Own Growth
  • Lesson 7: Providing Feedback to Maximize Engagement for All Learners
    • 7.a Providing Feedback to Maximize Engagement for All Learners
    • 7.b Midterm
  • Lesson 8: Helping Students Own the Learning Process
    • 8.a Helping Students Own The Learning Process
    • 8.b Helping Students See the Learning Process
    • 8.c How Students Can Take Ownership of Their Learning Process
    • 8.d Road Map to Formative Assessment
  • Lesson 9: Engagement Myths
    • 9.a Many Myths of Engagement
    • 9.b The BIG Myth of Disengagement
    • 9.c Reframing Behavior in Terms of Engagement
    • 9.d When Student Disengagement is Covert
  • Lesson 10: MEAL: A Taste of Things to Come
    • 10.a MEAL: A Taste of Things to Come
    • 10.b Educational Neuroscience Will Help Inform Practice
  • Final Exam

Contact information: or 425-788-7275 ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

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