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SLANT and Student Engagement

by Early Math Counts

Paul Tough explores the notion of SLANT in his book How Children Succeed– a technique that teachers at the KIPP (Knowledge in Power Programs) schools use to teach code-switching behaviors that indicate professional and education engagement.  As an adult educator, I too, look for these behaviors to indicate that my students are interested in the material we are studying and what we are doing in class.  SLANT stands for:






This got me thinking about what engagement looks like for young children and how engagement might be misinterpreted as “naughty” or “inappropriate” behavior.

Young children show engagement in several ways – but it usually doesn’t look like the above-described behaviors.  When children are excited by the activities going on around them, they often get revved up.  They might yell out, or move around animatedly.  Jumping up and down is not unusual.  But one of the most important ways that young children show that they are actively engaged in the material is by moving closer to it.  You might see children crawling closer to you during a read aloud, even standing up and touching the book.  Take a look at this video of Lillian reading “The Napping House”.  Do you see how engaged the children are in the book?  Notice how she allows their proximity and even encourages it.  Notice how some children are completely transfixed by the book and how others are moving around.

The Password to view the video is Lillian

2 Replies to “SLANT and Student Engagement”

  1. I read this story to my children also when I get to the ending the children all together say the words together. They start to recognize those same words in other stories.

    1. The predictability of this story makes it a classroom favorite. This would be a fun one to have a felt board version- I could imagine children loving it. Thanks for the post, April.

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