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4 Big Wins for Student Engagement During Small Group Intervention



Are your small-group interventions falling flat?

Focusing on student engagement can turn every session into a launchpad for success! As educators, we know small group intervention effectively provides targeted support and instruction to students who need it most. It’s a chance for us to work closely with our students and help them develop their skills to succeed. However, the success of small group intervention largely depends on student engagement.

It seems simple, but what do we mean by student engagement? Essentially, it’s level of involvement, interest, and enthusiasm that a student has for the task at hand. It’s how tuned in students are during a lesson.  When we engage students, they are more likely to participate actively in the learning process, ask questions, and take ownership of their learning. When they’re disengaged, on the other hand, they may be more prone to distractions, behavior issues, and low motivation.

While we always want students to engage and actively learn, student engagement becomes more critical in the context of small-group intervention. Students who actively engage in the intervention process are more likely to make accelerated progress on growth measures and achieve the desired outcomes. So, what can we do to promote student engagement during small group intervention?

1. Relevance

It’s important that the content of the intervention targets the skills needed by each student based on what their data shows. However, ensuring the delivery is relevant and meaningful is also significant to a student’s success. Students are more likely to maintain their engagement when they see the value of their learning and how it relates to their lives. For example, if you are working on reading comprehension skills, you could use texts that are relevant to their interests or experiences.  Whenever possible, use real-world examples or scenarios to teach concepts and skills. Here are a few examples:

  1. Interest-Based Texts: If you know a group of students are interested in sports, use sports-related articles or stories to teach reading comprehension. This makes the instructional material more engaging for them.

  2. Current Events Discussion: If the goal is to improve critical thinking or debate skills, use current events or issues that they might already be discussing with friends or seeing on social media. This ties learning to the world they're living in.

  3. Cultural Relevance: Utilize materials that reflect the cultures or backgrounds of the students in the group. For instance, reading stories that feature characters or settings from similar cultural backgrounds can make the learning more relevant to them. 

2. Interaction

Making an effort to deliver intervention sessions in an interactive and hands-on way is a big win for student engagement. Students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process rather than just listening passively. So, consider incorporating games, discussions, and activities into your intervention sessions. Another way to make intervention lessons more interactive is to incorporate movement: It’s easier for students to stay engaged when they are moving around and active. 

3. Feedback

To keep students engaged, provide plenty of regular feedback and encouragement. When students feel like they’re making progress and that their efforts are recognized, they’re more likely to stay engaged and motivated. So, make sure to provide specific feedback on their strengths and areas for improvement, and celebrate their successes along the way. 

Here are some types of specific feedback to improve student engagement:

  1. Progress Acknowledgment: "Great work on identifying the main idea in that passage! You've come a long way since our first session."

  2. Skill-Specific Praise: "Your sentence structure has really improved, making your arguments more clear and impactful."

  3. Effort Recognition: "Even though you didn't get it right. That's how learning happens!"

  4. Behavioral Feedback: "I appreciate how attentive and focused you've been today. It makes a big difference in your learning."

  5. Goal-Oriented Feedback: "You've already achieved your goal of answering at least 3 out of 4 questions correctly today. What shall we aim for next?"

  6. Affirmative Nudging: "You're so close to getting it. One more try?"

  7. Comparative Feedback: "You've read 10 more pages this week compared to last week. You're making excellent progress!"

  8. Personal Milestones: "Congratulations, you've shown progress on your formative assessment scores! That's an indication of the hard work you're putting in."

4. Relationships

I can’t stress the importance of making positive relationships with your students enough to help drive up engagement and motivation. When students feel comfortable and connected with their teacher and each other, they want to succeed for themselves, each other, and you. So, take the time to get to know your students and show that you care about their learning and success. One way to build relationships is to give students choices about their learning whenever possible. It helps them feel more in control of their growth and develops ownership in the learning process. 

Student engagement is essential for the success of small group intervention. By making the content relevant and meaningful, providing interactive and hands-on activities, giving regular feedback and encouragement, and building positive relationships with students, we can promote engagement and help our students achieve their goals!

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