<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=940171109376247&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Dedicated to Teachers

Helping Students to Become Responsible For Their Own Engagement

engaging children blog 6.1.18It’s difficult to imagine having a conversation with children about their own thinking, the process we call metacognition. Can one simultaneously read; keep track of the meaning; think about questions, schema, inferences, images, and important ideas, and synthesize as one reads? The short answer, is yes. Even very young readers, while listening to text, and the rest of us while reading, can think about thinking. We can all be more active and engaged readers when we use thinking strategies to understand. Being metacognitive helps all of us deepen our understanding, at least in some circumstances.

Download a Sample Chapter of Engaging Children

If that is true, why would it be any different to teach students to be aware of
their own level of engagement as they read? Why do we believe that “motivating kids,”
even engaging them, is solely our responsibility? Consider the questions we might
teach them to ask:

  • Am I compliant−just doing this work because I'm asked to do it?
  • Am I merely going along, participating in a group, or am I actively collaborating−am I learning from and contributing to others' learning?
  • Am I motivated to do this work because I'm working for a reward of some kind, such as a grade?
  • Am I motivated because I have affection and respect for someone who wants me to do something and I want them to like and respect me?
  • Or am I truly engaged?
    • Do I feel intellectual urgency?
    • Am I having an emotional reaction?
    • Am I changing my thinking, emotions, and beliefs because of conversations with others?
    • Am I slowing down enough to recognize the beauty in the world and to create something of beauty or take action in the world?


Thumbnail of a Wistia video
Thumbnail of a Wistia video


Children throughout the age range can and often do pay attention to their thinking; they're metacognitive and they can learn to focus on the kinds of attention and engagement they're bringing to a given learning situation. Asking children to think about these questions−what do I think, what do I feel, what do I believe, and how can I act−allows them to monitor their engagement independently and upon finding themselves disengaged, they can use them to dig back into work that fascinates and touches them.


Learn more about Engaging Children at Heinemann.com, and get involved in the discussion on the Engaging Children Facebook Group!

Join the Engaging Children Facebook Group Here

glyph-logo_May2016Follow us on Instagram @heinemannpub to stay up to date on the latest books, your favorite authors, and upcoming events!

ellinkeene-7Ellin Oliver Keene has been a classroom teacher, staff developer, non-profit director, and adjunct professor of reading and writing. For sixteen years she directed staff development initiatives at the Denver-based Public Education & Business Coalition. She served as Deputy Director and Director of Literacy and Staff Development for the Cornerstone Project at the University of Pennsylvania for four years. Ellin works with schools and districts throughout the country and abroad with an emphasis on long-term, school-based professional development and strategic planning for literacy learning. She serves as senior advisor at Heinemann, overseeing the Heinemann Fellows initiative and is the editor of the Heinemann Professional Development Catalog-Journal.

Follow her on Twitter @EllinKeene

Topics: Ellin Keene, Engaging Children

Date Published: 08/06/18

Related Posts

3 Moves for Crafting Sessions That Integrate Reading and Writing

The following is an adapted excerpt from Ellin Keene’s The Literacy Studio. Ellin is currently running a ...
Apr 23, 2024 1:32:46 PM

Commuter Series: An Integrated Reading and Writing Approach

Less planning, more student autonomy, and more time to confer. Sounds pretty great, right? In an integrat...
Oct 30, 2023 4:00:00 AM

The Literacy Studio: Workshop Reimagined

Have you ever thought “if only I had more time for my reading and writing workshops”? Enter the Literacy ...
Jan 27, 2023 12:15:00 AM

The Planning Wheel: A Tool to Integrate Reading and Writing

The following is adapted from The Literacy Studio: Redesigning the Workshop for Readers and Writers by El...
Nov 16, 2022 9:23:08 AM