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Interest Dianne J.E. Kraus Wilkes University


Abstract The students in this mini-study were fourteen students from a diverse group of sophomore AVID elective students who are learning college strategies and skills to prepare them for advancement to college. The students who attend Dundee Crown High School in Carpentersville, Illinois are considered in the middle and are put into advanced courses with the support of tutorials as determined by their test scores. Most of the students are from low income homes and they will be the first generation of their family to attend college. The mini-study was videotaped during a 45minute first period class.


Interest The lesson for this mini-study focused on the processing strategies for increasing response rates, unusual information and using academic games to increase student interest and engagement. The teacher had the following learning goal displayed and written in student friendly terms. (Appendix 1) The students will be able to utilize Costas Levels (Appendix 2) hierarchy to write higher-order questions. Prior to this lesson, students were put into pairs and asked to design higher order questions based on Costas levels of mental processing from prompts on the fairy tale Cinderella. At the beginning, the teacher reviewed Costas levels and the students shared their work. The teacher chose students at random by pulling their names from a beaker and returning their names to be drawn again. This prevented teacher bias and promoted student interest because they did not know which name would be called on. All of the students had to be ready and prepared to engage with the teacher. After answering the question a student was chosen to elaborate and build on the previous students response using response chaining. This increased student collaboration, increased engagement and increased student response rates. The students were forced to think more deeply about the content as they prepared themselves to answer the questions posed by their teacher. The teacher also employed the use of wait time after asking questions, so that all students would have time to process the information from their peers and to formulate new answers. The teacher then transitioned to an inconsequential competition, where the teacher presented unusual content in the form of a video where an antelope runs straight into a tree in the middle of the savannah. The students were asked to compete in teams to write different levels of questions based on the video on their desktop whiteboards in groups of three to four. All of the


students were then given goldfish crackers as a breakfast snack, and the teacher concluded the lesson by asking two higher order questions for the students to consider as the class ended. The strategies to increase response rates that were used were very effective in keeping the students engaged in the lesson. All of the students were held accountable for answering and on the video students were observed talking to their partners to come up with the answer to the question before the next name was called. They were collaborating to clarify and come up with possible answers and were eager to help one another as the response chaining was utilized by the teacher. There was evidence of multiple students responding to questioning during the lesson. The video of unusual content added humor as it was unexpected for the antelope to run into the tree. The students laughed and their interest increased in response to the video, and it provided unusual content to write the higher order questions. The students struggled with the questioning because the questions are difficult to form and they must think backwards in design. It is normal for students to answer questions but in this situation they needed to ask the questions that would make others think more critically. For some of the students, they were not completely familiar with the vocabulary used at the higher levels and this was a very challenging lesson for them. This provided the teacher with necessary instructional feedback in order to differentiate activities for upcoming lessons. Engaging the students in a game was fun, especially so early in the morning, when the students were still half asleep. The game pushed them a little to try to get an answer quickly, one team made a mistake on Costas levels, but they were able to analyze their error and explain what they did wrong on the hierarchy to form their question. The other students then had a chance to share their answers to gain a point. It would have been better if the teacher had


required all of the groups to share their answers before moving to the next question. Although all students were participating, and they were trying to answer the questions with enthusiasm, one group was not heard from during the game. In the future the teacher will make sure that all answers are shared before declaring a winner of each round. Each group should have an opportunity to share out their answer and to have their peers evaluate the correctness of their answer. All of the students were given a healthy snack to start their day and they were all happy to share at the end. The students are at different levels of understanding on how to write higher-order questions, and they will continue to be given practice and challenges for their learning at the appropriate levels until they all master the process. All AVID students must write weekly higher order questions for their tutorials and for their learning logs. This teacher conducted an innovating lesson during this mini-study and was able to incorporate many strategies in order to increase the interest of the students and to keep the students engaged in their learning. The assessment (Appendix 3) is attached and is one of many given to the students over the semester to check for understanding. The next step is to make

name sticks for all of the students in each class so that these strategies continue to be used and refined. The response chaining will be an excellent strategy to incorporate into Socratic discussions in order to increase student response rates. The teacher also plans to develop more academic games that can be built into the curriculum and be planned for within each unit in order to engage the students in fun learning opportunities that are engaging but apply mild pressure in the learning environment. The teacher uses unusual information to hook the students interest on a regular basis but she will continue to find new ways to update and to add unusual content in order to peak student interest.


APPENDIX 1 SCORING RUBRIC: Students will be able to utilize Costas Levels of thinking to write higher order questions. 4.0 The student: Differentiates between questions at all three levels of Costas hierarchy. In addition to score 3.0 performance partial success at score 4.0 content The student: Describes how or why students in high school and college should ask questions of higher order thinking No major errors or omissions regarding score 2.0 content and partial success at score 3.0 content The student: Recalls and recognizes the words of Costas levels of higher order thinking Partial success of score 2.0 content, and major errors or omissions regarding score 3.0 content With help, partial success at score 2.0 content and score 3.0 content With help partial success at score 2.0 content but not at score 3.0 content Even with help, no success

3.5 3.0




1.0 0.5 0.0





Sort the following questions into 3 categories, classifying them according to Costas Levels of Questions (level one, two and three).

1. Name the elements that make up water.

2. What will Illinois population be like in 2050 if we continue to grow as we have for the past ten years?

3. What is the definition of a trapezoid?

4. Imagine that you were in the characters position. How would you react?

5. Distinguish one candidates platform from that of the other candidate.

6. Recite the Preamble to the Constitution.

7. What happened to the litmus paper when inserted in the liquid?

8. Create an invention that uses at least three types of simple machines.

9. Analyze the characters intentions in the scene.


10. .Make a plan to complete your science fair project.

11. Evaluate the expression (3x+5)^2 if x = -2.

12. Applying the principles espouses in the Fifth Amendment, how would you decide the case of

13. Use four 4s and any math operational symbols to create expressions that equal the numbers 1 10.

14. Explain how involvement in war impacts the economy.

15. Arrange the following numbers in order from smallest to largest.



References Marzano, R.J. (2007). The art and science of teaching. Alexandria, VA:ASCD Marzano, R.J. (2009). Designing & teaching learning goals & objectives. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory Marzano, R.J. & Pickering D.J. (2011). The highly engaged classroom. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory