Articles are written to inform, misinform, influence, or misdirect, among other reasons. Sometimes they serve as nothing more than a vehicle for an author to achieve fame, notoriety, and wealth. You should never take at face value the elements of any article you read, but you should be able to:
• Differentiate between fact and opinion
• Recognize and evaluate author bias and rhetoric
• Determine cause-and-effect relationships
• Determine accuracy and completeness of information presented
• Recognize logical fallacies and faulty reasoning
• Compare and contrast information and points of view
• Develop inferential skills
• Make judgments and draw logical conclusions
When writing an article critique, you will need to summarize, evaluate, and offer critical comment on the ideas and information that the author(s) presents in the article.
In your paper, cite any and all information taken from the article or any other references used. Your goal should be to read and understand the article, analyze the findings or arguments, and evaluate and comment on the article.
Remember to include and cite the provided article in the critique paper as well!
Student book:(Chapter 9 & 10)
Reading the Article
• Allow enough time to understand it.
• Read the article without taking notes to gain an overall picture of its main idea.
• Read the article again analytically highlighting important ideas and making brief notes of the main ideas and main topic.
Be sure to address the following within your article critique:
• What is the issue that the article is specifically addressing? Is this a significant problem or issue related to the concepts and theory in this course? Why or why not?
• What references did the author use in this article?
• Did the article contain research? What data was used? What instruments, if any, were used to collect data?
• What were some of the conclusions, if any, to the research in this article?
• Was the article reliable and valid? Explain.
• Was this article well written? Thoughtful and reflective?
• What were the limitations in this article? Any variables?
• Any other thoughts, comments?
Requirements of submission: Written components of projects must follow these formatting guidelines when applicable: double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and discipline-appropriate citations. Page length should be 3 pages, not including cover page and resources.
Critical Elements Exemplary Proficient Needs Improvement Not Evident Value
Main Elements Includes almost all of the main elements and requirements and cites multiple examples to illustrate each element
(23-25) Includes most of the main elements and requirements and cites many examples to illustrate each element
(20-22) Includes some of the main elements and requirements
(18-19) Does not include any of the main elements and requirements
Quality of Article Critique
Provides an in-depth critique of the main elements; lists and explains examples of bias or faulty reasoning found in the article
(23-25) Critiques the main elements; listsand explains any examples of bias or faulty reasoning found in the article
(20-22) Attempts to critique the main elements and list examples of bias or faulty reasoning found in the article
(18-19) Fails to critique the main elements, does not include any examples of bias or faulty reasoning found in the article
Inquiry and Analysis
Explores multiple issues through extensive collection and in-depth analysis of evidence to make informed conclusions
(14-15) Explores some issues through collection and in-depth analysis of evidence to make informed conclusions
(12-13) Explores minimal issues through collection and analysis of evidence to make informed conclusions
(11) Does not explore issues through collection and analysis of evidence and does not make informed conclusions
Integration and Application All of the course concepts are correctly applied
(9-10) Most of the course concepts are correctly applied
(8) Some of the course concepts are correctly applied
(7) Does not correctly apply any of the course concepts
Research Incorporates many scholarly resources effectively that reflect depth and breadth of research
(14-15) Incorporates some scholarly resources effectively that reflect depth and breadth of research
(12-13) Incorporates very few scholarly resources that reflect depth and breadth of research
(11) Does not incorporate scholarly resources that reflect depth and breadth of research
(Mechanics/Citations) No errors related to organization, grammar and style, and citations
(9-10) Minor errors related to organization, grammar and style, and citations
(8) Some errors related to organization, grammar and style, and citations
(7) Major errors related to organization, grammar and style, and citations
Beyond the Journal • Young Children on the Web • March 2006 1
Strategies to Facilitate
Children’s Learning and Success
PICTURE YOUR CLASSROOM. Are there moments like this
one when children are fully involved, curious about finding
answers to real questions, taking initiative, enthusiastic?
The room hums with positive energy and children are
deeply engaged in their learning. You step back with a
deep sense of satisfaction and think, “Wow! They are
working well together. I wish it were always like this.” You
recognize that the children are a community of learners.
In this article we define what engagement is and why it
is important to children’s success as learners. We offer
strategies for facilitating children’s engagement in learning
and provide some tips for implementing them.
Children begin life eager to explore the world around
them. Watching a baby fascinated by the hands she has
just discovered as hers or a toddler as he carefully lifts a
shovel full of sand, spills it into the colander, then watches,
eyes wide open, as the sand flows through the tiny holes—
for the fifth time—is seeing engagement at its best!
Research about engagement in the classroom describes
both psychological and behavioral characteristics (Finn &
Rock 1997; Brewster & Fager 2000; Marks 2000). Psychologically,
engaged learners are intrinsically motivated by
curiosity, interest, and enjoyment, and are likely to want to
achieve their own intellectual or personal goals. In addition,
the engaged child demonstrates the behaviors of
concentration, investment, enthusiasm, and effort.
In the opening example the children demonstrate
engagement through their curiosity, effort,
and persistence. They can be described as busy and
on task. But they are also using their minds, hearts,
and even their bodies to learn. In his book Shaking Up
the School House, Schlechty captures the difference
between being engaged and being on task:
Engagement is active. It requires that students be
attentive as well as in attendance; it requires the student to
be committed to the task and find some inherent value in
what he or she is being asked to do. The engaged student
not only does the task assigned but also does it with
enthusiasm and diligence. Moreover, the student performs
the task because he or she perceives the task to be associated
with a near-term end that he or she values. (2001, 64)
Judy R. Jablon and Michael Wilkinson
The third-graders in Ms. Neil’s classroom begin a lesson on
dictionaries with a whole-group discussion about what the children
already know about the purpose and organization of these resources.
Ms. Neil then explains to the children that they will work
in small groups to examine the dictionary carefully; make observations
about the book’s organization, structure, and format; and
record their group’s findings on a chart. After ensuring that
everyone is clear about the task, she posts a chart showing six
teams of four children and sends them off with a task sheet to
The teams disperse to get the necessary materials: chart paper,
dictionaries, and a basket with markers, pencils, and sticky notes.
A few minutes later, a buzz of activity and conversation fills the
room as all six teams pore over dictionary pages, discuss their
observations, collaborate, and debate how to keep track of the
information on their charts. Ms. Neil circulates around the room
talking with each group, posing questions to promote thinking,
responding to children’s questions, and noting to individual
children what she observes about their work. Within the groups,
laughter is interspersed with argument as children comment on
humorous or unfamiliar words, multiple meanings, and unusual
punctuation. Twenty minutes into the work period, the six charts
are filling up with lots of information.
Judy R. Jablon, MS, is a consultant, facilitator, and author who
works with teachers and administrators in a variety of settings
serving children ages 3 through 11. Books she has coauthored
about instruction and assessment include The Power of Observation
and Building the Primary Classroom.
Michael Wilkinson is managing director of Atlanta-based
Leadership Strategies–The Facilitation Company and is a certified
master facilitator (CMF). He is author of The Secrets of Facilitation
and The Secrets of Masterful Meetings and has served as a
consultant for school systems in Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Illustrations © Marti Betz
Beyond the Journal • Young Children on the Web • March 2006 2
What does research tell us about
engagement in the classroom?
Not surprisingly, research shows a significant correlation
between high levels of engagement and improved
attendance and achievement as measured through direct
observations and interviews with and questionnaires to
children and teachers (Finn & Rock 1997; Marks 2000;
Roderick & Engle 2001; Willingham, Pollack, & Lewis 2002).
After children enter school,
their natural motivation and
interest in learning do not
always persist. Research also
tells us that disengagement
increases as children
progress from elementary to
middle to high school (Graham
& Weiner 1996; Felner et
al. 1997; Brewster & Fager
2000). Children may lose
interest in classroom activities,
respond poorly to
teacher direction and classroom
interaction, and perform
significantly lower on
tests. Studies have shown
that patterns of educational
disengagement begin as early
as third grade (Rossi &
As important as engagement is for children’s success as
learners, strategies for promoting engagement are not
emphasized or even present in the vast majority of school
settings (Marks 2000; McDermott, Mordell, & Stolzfus
2001). Instruction that promotes passivity, rote learning,
and routine tends to be the rule rather than the exception
(Yair 2000; Goodlad
2004). Because children
with low levels
disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and eventually dropping
out of school (Roderick & Engle 2001), the need to increase
engagement is critical to children’s success in school.
Engaging children in the classroom
Educators of young children tend to share the goal of
fostering children’s successful learning and achievement.
As the pressure to emphasize academic standards
increases, it is all the more essential to reflect on
the most effective practices for ensuring that
children are actually learning what is being taught.
Some factors related to children’s achievement are
not in teachers’ control, but creating a climate of
engagement in the classroom is. The use of engagement
strategies is a powerful teaching tool
critical in promoting children’s achievement
• focuses children on learning;
• supports learning specific skills and concepts; and
• provides children positive associations with
The authors’ experiences observing in classrooms
and talking with teachers show that many
teachers use strategies throughout the day to
engage children in learning. In a recent conversation
with a group of K–3 teachers, one teacher
remarked, “I care a lot about engaging my kids. But
it just comes naturally to me. I’m not sure I actually use
strategies.” Another teacher added, “It’s just part of the
culture of my classroom.” These teachers work hard to
foster positive relationships with children and create a
learning community. But the more we talked, they gradually
began to analyze the little things they do and concluded
collectively that they do use
strategies to facilitate
Some teachers use
to introduce children to
Research shows a
between high levels of
and achievement as
and interviews with
and questionnaires to
children and teachers.
Photos © Ellen Senisi
Beyond the Journal • Young Children on the Web • March 2006 3
new ideas or bring a topic of study to
conclusion. Others use them to keep
children focused, energize the group,
manage behavior, and avoid chaos
during transitions. Engagement strategies
can be used for different purposes
and in different settings.
Below are some engagement strategies
for use with whole groups, small
groups, and individual learners:
KWL—To begin a new study or theme,
teachers ask children, “What do you
already know, what do you wonder
about, and what do you want to
learn?” Use of this strategy tells
children that their prior knowledge
and interests are valued.
How many ways can you do this?—
Teachers pose this question or organize
an activity with this as the opener in various situations.
For example, how many ways can you create
shapes on a geoboard? or how many ways can you sort
bottle caps? As soon as you ask children to come up with
many different ways to use a material, answer a question,
or end a story, their desire to make choices and be
inventive comes into play and leads to engagement.
Think, pair, share—This strategy works well at group time
to ensure that each child has an opportunity to respond
to questions. After posing a question, the teacher tells
children to take a moment to think of an answer and then
turn to a partner to talk. After everyone has had a
chance to talk with their partners, volunteers
share a few ideas with the whole group.
Dramatic touch—Teachers can use drama and
humor to enhance child interest. For example,
to encourage children to use other words for said in their
writing, a teacher darkened the
room, lit a flashlight, and attached
a card with the word said written
on it to a make-believe tombstone.
Then the class brainstormed other
words they could use.
See what you can find out—The
primary purpose of this approach
is to introduce children to a new
topic, material, book, or tool. Ms.
Neil used it to encourage children
to further explore a valuable resource
Quick games—Twenty Questions, I’m
Thinking of a Number, and other
games that capture children’s
interest can be applied to different
subject areas and often work
especially well to keep children
engaged during transition times.
Understanding why engagement
Think back to the story of Ms. Neil’s classroom at the
beginning of the article. Amidst an atmosphere of energy,
enthusiasm, and productivity, the children are actively
acquiring and applying skills related to using a dictionary.
They are purposeful while investigating how to understand
and use an
tool. They are researchers
teams to discover,
share, and organize
• activate prior knowledge
• foster active investigation
• promote group interaction
• encourage collaboration
• allow for choice
• include games and humor
• support mastery
• nurture independent thinking
• do not make children wait
Photos © Ellen B. Senisi
Beyond the Journal • Young Children on the Web • March 2006 4
information. Ms. Neil carefully selected the engagement
strategy See What You Can Find Out because it addresses
the purposes of her lesson:
• to expose children to new information—Ms. Neil is
teaching how to learn about and use reference materials.
She also addresses a third grade state literacy standard:
determine the meanings and other features of words (for
example, pronunciation, syllabication, synonyms, parts of
speech) using the dictionary and thesaurus (and CD-ROM
and Internet when available).
• to promote excitement through discovery—In this
lesson Ms. Neil exposes children to all that the dictionary
offers as a research tool.
See What You Can Find Out engages children because it
includes instructional methods that fit well with how
children learn. This approach
• activates prior knowledge—Children answer “What do
you already know about [in our example, the dictionary]?”
• requires active investigation—Children answer “What
can you find out about ______?”
• encourages collaboration—Children work in teams of
four, divide responsibilities, and share information and
knowledge with peers.
• allows choice—Children determine
how to go about the task, what information
they will gather, and how to
record it on their chart.
Using this strategy gives
children greater responsibility
for their learning, a
prerequisite for high
As stated earlier, research
tells us that teacher awareness
and the use of engagement
children tremendously. Their
interest in learning and their
confidence as learners will
increase, and hopefully
those children who are
engaged learners in the early
grades will bring this characteristic
with them as they continue in school. What’s more,
teachers tell us that they themselves are energized by the
children’s increased enthusiasm and success.
Facilitating engagement strategies
The engagement strategies you choose depend on your
purpose, teaching style, and the children in your classroom.
Regardless of the strategies selected, effective
facilitation is a key to making them work. By facilitation we
mean the techniques used to execute a strategy.
When Ms. Neil uses the See What You Can Find Out
strategy to encourage children to explore the dictionary,
she facilitates the lesson by providing
• a clearly stated purpose—She lets children know the
overall purpose of the task and why they are being asked
to do it: they are researchers finding out about how to use
a powerful tool.
• explicit directions—Ms. Neil provides directions about
the what and how of the task at each step, both verbally
and in writing.
• needed materials—Children have dictionaries, chart
paper, and baskets with pencils, markers, and sticky notes.
• guidance—Ms. Neil circulates among groups, asking and
answering questions as well as giving feedback.
Ideally, teachers should use a wide range of engagement
strategies and then masterfully facilitate their implementation.
Not only do engagement strategies enable teachers to
capture the interest of children as they learn the skills and
concepts necessary for success in school, but children
also experience what it feels like to be engaged in learning—
a lifelong gift.
Teachers tell us that they themselves are energized by the children’s increased enthusiasm and success. Photos © Ellen B. Senisi
Innovative Practice Beyond the Journal • Young Children on the Web • March 2006 5
Brewster, C., & J. Fager. 2000. Increasing student engagement and
motivation: From time on task to homework. Portland, OR: Northwest
Regional Educational Laboratory. Online: www.nwrel.org/request/oct00/textonly.html.
Felner, R.D., A.W. Jackson, D. Kasak, P. Mulhall, S. Brand, & N.
Flowers. 1997. The impact of school reform for the middle years:
Longitudinal study of a network engaged in Turning Points-based
comprehensive school transformation. Phi Delta Kappan 78
(March): 528–32; 541–50.Share your great ideas . . .
The authors are writing a book with the working title
“The Power of Engagement: Facilitating Student Interest
and Achievement.” It will be a compendium of successful
engagement strategies for early childhood and
elementary teachers. They want to hear about engagement
strategies you use in your classroom so they can
share them with other teachers. Please visit the Web
site, www.engagingstudents.com, to share your
successful strategies and to read other examples.
Copyright © 2006 by Judy R. Jablon and Michael Wilkinson. For permissions and reprints,
contact Judy Jablon at [email protected]
Finn, J.D., & D.A. Rock. 1997. Academic success among students
at risk for school failure. Journal of Applied Psychology 82 (2):
Goodlad, J.I. 2004. A place called school: Prospects for the future.
20th anniversary ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. Article Critique
Graham, S., & B. Weiner. 1996. Theories and principles of motivation.
In Handbook of educational psychology, eds. D. Berliner &
R.C. Calfee, 62–84. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Article Critique
Marks, H.M. 2000. Student engagement in instructional activity:
Patterns in the elementary, middle and high school years.
American Educational Research Journal 37 (1): 153–84. Article Critique
McDermott, P.A., M. Mordell, & J.C. Stolzfus. 2001. The organization
of student performance in American schools: Discipline,
motivation, verbal and non-verbal learning. Journal of Educational
Psychology 93 (1): 65–76.
Roderick, M., & M. Engle. 2001. The grasshopper and the ant:
Motivational responses of low-achieving students to high-stakes
testing. Educational Evaluation Policy Analysis 23 (3): 197–227.
Rossi, R., & A. Montgomery. 1994. Education reforms and students
at risk: A review of the current state of the art. Washington, DC:
U.S. Department of Education. Article Critique
Schlechty, P. 2001. Shaking up the school house: How to support
and sustain educational innovation: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Willingham, W.W., J.M. Pollack, & C. Lewis. 2002. Grades and test
scores: Accounting for observed differences. Journal of Educational
Measurement 39 (1): 1–37. Article Critique
Yair, G. 2000. Reforming motivation: How the structure of instruction
affects students’ learning experiences. British Educational
Journal 26 (2): 191–210. Article Critique
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