Increase Students’ Engagement Using Metacognition

Increase Engagement? Yes Please!

Increase Students’ Engagement Using Metacognition is a micro-course designed to help teachers address that handful of students who struggle to get engaged with classroom activities. This course addresses a common problem (students not engaged in classwork), provides a concrete strategy to address the problem (using a formatted Google Sheet), introduces the idea of metacognition (through student and teacher reflection) and discusses how and when to use the strategy. This tool can be used for grades 4-12, based on how the teacher tailors the goals for individual students. An example Google Sheet is provided to you and the instructor is available for questions.

Low Student Engagement is a Modern Day Classroom Problem

Got a student who refuses to participate in class? A learner who struggles to stay focused on classwork? A child who spends more time talking than learning? These are all instructional problems you have undoubtedly encountered. Instead of getting frustrated, feeling helpless, or just trying to “get through” the class period, you can try this instructional strategy that is designed to lessen your frustration and increase their engagement. Win win!

Who Is This Strategy For?

This powerful strategy can be used in any subject area in grades 4-12, with appropriate modifications. For a younger student, focusing on 1 or 2 goals and having a clear conversation about what each goal actually looks like in practice will enable success.  For an older student, creating 3-4 goals is reasonable as long as the teacher clearly communicates each goal and the reason behind each one. 

A Strategy That Makes Your Students’ Performance More Visible

Using this strategy engages disengaged students through goal setting and metacognition. By clearly articulating your goals for the student based on your observations of their behavior, you will set the student up to meet that target every day. Further, building in a time and place to quickly reflect, ignites metacognition and further engages the student. This tool will almost certainly improve the work your struggling students create and, most importantly, improve your communication and relationship.

About the Instructor:

Krista Barbour is the creator of a whimsical and rigorous middle school English classroom in Lawrence, KS. Engaging kids in authentic learning experiences is her jam! Her work in the classroom over the past 13 years has involved visiting retirement communities so students can write narrative nonfiction after interviewing residents, motivating students to write 18,000 word novels in 30 days (for real!), and incorporating food trucks into a rigorous analysis of short stories.  Having taught in both public and private schools, Krista is prepared to share all the tips and tricks necessary to create a classroom where all students are pushed to find joy and pride in their English studies. She is committed to making middle school not the worst place ever.

You can find her musings about middle school on her Whimsy and Rigor blog,  follow classroom adventures on Instagram @whimsyandrigor and tune into her weekly tips on her YouTube channel.


Our Student Engagement Problem

We have to talk about "that kid." You know, the one that despite how hard you try is still disconnected from the class content? That one.

Meet Krista Barbour

After 13 years of teaching middle school, I've finally found a tool that could help "that kid" engage in class. Let's begin!


Overview of what you will get from this course.


Does this student sound familiar to you?

Tackling the problem


Help your students set specific goals for themselves and creating the Google Sheet.

Setting goals

Help your students set engagement goals.

Example Sheet

Let me show you an example sheet.

Checking in with your students

Daily check-in makes you and your student reflect on how they did that class.

Include the parents

Keeping the parents in the loop will make a world of difference.

Additional Materials and Contact Information

But what about…?

I know what you're thinking...

Addressing your questions

Let's address some questions you might have!

How to reach me

This is how you can contact me!

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