Active Engagement Techniques
Southside Elementary 3 grade Educators:
Nickie Blackburn, Kim Hughes, Christy McCoy,
and Amy Mounts-Varney
Introduction Amy Mounts-Varney
Modeling of Active Engagement Techniques
Reading Amy Mounts-Varney
Writing Kim Hughes
Ticket Game Kim Hughes
Language Arts Christy McCoy
Punctuate with Pasta
Math Nickie Blackburn
Language Arts Nickie Blackburn
Clothes Pin Punctuation
I Found It On Page…….
By: Amy Mounts-Varney, 3rd grade
Wooden Craft Sticks
Laminated “I Found It on Page…” signs
Big Book or Text on PowerPoint
Comprehension Questions on interactive board
Dry Erase Markers
Infant Socks for erasers
First, copy, laminate, and cut out the desired amount of “I Found It on Page…” signs
using the template located in the resource section of this packet. Next, cut
approximately a ½ inch strip of Velcro for each sign. Then attach one side of
Velcro to the craft stick and the other piece to the back of sign. Finally, hook
Velcro and Viola! You have an interactive message board.
Active Engagement using ERT (Everyone Read To)
A common reading comprehension activity used by many educators is giving students
a list of questions and providing a specified page number in which they are to read
and then answer questions. Many students “clock out” or mentally zone out when
asked to complete this type of activity. To actively engage all students try using
instant message boards.
1. Prepare questions to assess comprehension using an interactive board system or
PowerPoint presentation for students to view.
2. Handout to students the “I Found it on Page…” interactive message boards, dry
erase markers, erasers, and text.
3. Explain to students they will read a question on the board, and then search for
the question in the text. When they find the answer they are to write down the
page number on their message board and hold it up for teacher to view. To add
excitement and challenge, give students one or two minutes to locate their answer
before being timed out. After students have ample time to complete a question,
teacher calls on a volunteer to come to the big book or interactive board and
show students the answer to the question.
4. After completing all questions you might choose to assess individual learning by
giving a similar set of multiple choice or open ended questions that students
complete at their desk.
Play a game by seeing which table raises their signs first with the correct
page number. To motivate students award them individually or as a group
for their correctness after each question.
Place in a center with text and questions on index cards, have a coach that
reads the question and umpire that calls which person answered first with
the correct answer.
Stop and Talk Vocabulary Review
By: Amy Mounts-Varney
Another way to use student message boards with reading is to make Emoticon Stop
signs. Follow the same procedures as listed above using the Emoticon Stop template
located in the resource section of this packet.
To assess students learning of content vocabulary, read the text omitting the
vocabulary words. Example: The _________________ is the leader of the
executive branch of our government. Teacher says, “The blank is the leader of the
executive branch of our government. Then teacher flashes vocabulary words written
on cards or PowerPoint and students hold up Stop message board when they see the
correct word. Teacher can call on a student to read the sentence using the
vocabulary word. At this time you may choose to discuss the meaning of the word
or continue reading. Also these signs can be used when students are reading and
they do not understand the text or would like to stop and discuss what has been
In addition the signs can be used to determine the correct placement of punctuation
when doing whole group paragraph editing. Students can write the correct
punctuation mark on the message board, hold up in the air to show end of a
complete sentence or thought.
By now your mind is probably actively engaged in thinking about all the ways these
inexpensive tools can change your students into active learners. Enjoy their endless
By: Kim Hughes
Teacher makes editing cue cards for students to use when editing a piece of writing. Cue cards
are based on whatever piece is being worked on and contain the information expected to be
found inside the piece. When students are given the piece they are to edit they will begin
reading the piece. As they come across parts that are on the cue cards they lay that cue card
over that part of the writing paper. If any cue cards are left over then that student realizes
that those parts must be added before their piece is completed.
Used to review concepts in any subject area. Students are placed in equal groups. Someone is
assigned the job of ticket holder. Another student is assigned the job of ticket counter (count
points at the end of the game). A third person is assigned the job of answer checker (they
check to make sure each person got the answer correct). A fourth person is assigned the job
of telling the point amount to the teacher.
A question is posed. Each student answers separately. When time is called the answer is given.
Any student gets the answer correct they raise their hand until a ticket has been left at the
table. If everyone in the group answered correctly then that table gets a red ticket. If only 1
person in the group missed it they get a blue ticket. If more than one person missed the
question they do not get a ticket.
When all questions have been answered they count their points. Red tickets are worth 10 points
and blue tickets are worth 5 points.
By: Christy McCoy
Regular sized Styrofoam (more durable) or paper plates.
Blue (Consonant Letters) Cut from Ellison Machine
Red (Vowels) including “w” and “y” Cut from Ellison Machine
Make multiple copies of letters (at least 5 of each to compensate for larger words).
This active engagement lesson allows your whole class to become active participants in their
learning. It is a wonderful way to reinforce vocabulary. It can be easily adapted to use with
reading vocabulary, content vocabulary, high frequency words, or word wall words.
This activity would follow Explicit Instruction and after providing the student with a variety of
ways to learn the word and its meaning. Wonderful for teaching
a phonemic, phonetic, or spelling lesson. The best part is children are using many multiple
intelligences such as: bodily kinesthetic, tactile, visual, and verbal.
Punctuate with Pasta
“Said is Dead”
By: Christy McCoy
Sentence strips, wet glue, and pasta pieces shaped like various punctuation marks, For example:
Florentine for question marks
Elbow macaroni for commas
Orzo for quotation marks
Spaghetti for exclamation points
Small round pasta shapes for periods
After a Mini Lesson on teaching dialogue, go to storylineonline.net and let the students listen
to the book Stellaluna. They will not be listening to the book for the purpose of
comprehension, but instead to list all of the different words that were used in the book to
take the place of the word “said.” This is a wonderful lesson on teaching synonyms for
By: Nickie Blackburn
The following activities are excellent ways to actively engage your students. They are fun for
the student, and quick effective assessments for the teacher. Both of these activities were
shared with me by Kim Cole, who is phenomenal in the area of active student engagement.
These octagonal shaped paddles and answer cards are easily made and maintained. Here is a list
of what you will need:
Octagon pattern (attached)
Word Patterns (attached)
White card stock
Colored card stock
Large craft sticks
Velcro “sticky” dots
Access to a laminator
For erasers, I use a small piece of felt material.
There are many ways to actively engage your students with these paddles. My students use
them for working math problems on one side, and naming the operation they used on the “sticky”
dot side. We also use them for answering yes and no, true and false, and agree and disagree
questions in all content areas. For reading, they are helpful when working with fact and opinion,
and cause and effect. They afford the teacher a “quick” assessment of who does and does not
understand the concept. In addition, the students like the independence (and the anonymity) of
choosing an answer and holding it high instead of having to answer questions verbally. They
know the paddles are an informal assessment for my purposes, and they feel a greater freedom
to answer honestly, and less hesitantly.
Clothes Pin Sentences
This is an easy yet effective center activity that helps young students become proficient at
identifying and punctuating the different types of sentences. First, you will need 10 - 12 clothes
pins marked with each type of ending punctuation: periods, exclamation marks, and question
marks. Next, type then print several different types of sentences. Laminate these, and cut
them into sentence strips. Last, write the correct ending punctuation on the back of each strip.
Students place the strips face up, and take turns choosing the correct clothes pin (punctuation)
for each. This can be an independent center for students as they can self-evaluate their
progress using the answer on the reverse side.
What time is it? Our team is terrific! I like my school.