What I Learned from Vincent Taylor About Student Engagement
by William Jackson, M.Ed.
Attending the recent Literacy Expo with Duval County Public
Schools presented talented educators, administrators,
authors and even students that are nationally recognized
authors and speakers. These included Moxie Girl (Natalie
McGriff and Angie Nixon), Cornbread (Vincent Taylor),
Moving to Music (Shawn Brown), and nationally/internationally
known pilot Barrington Irving provided a moving and engaging
presentation about his success as the first African American
young man to fly solo around the world.
Mr. Vincent Taylor, author, educator, parent, husband and
community influencer provided an interactive learning
experience that involved music, motion and
multiple instructional educational elements
that provided teachers with best practice strategies
to move students toward engagement in reading and
Mr. Taylor’s presentation at the Duval County Public
Schools Literacy Expo provided a platform
provided wonderful professional development strategies
that teachers could directly apply
instructional curriculum’s. Mr. Taylor a seasoned
educator and passionate about his career leading students
to love reading from diverse backgrounds, his presentation
centered on student engagement; what it is, how to create
a classroom atmosphere of learning, the importance of
engaging students with diversity and disability.
The creator of the award winning literacy series
Mr. Taylor danced with the attending teachers, sang
with them and demonstrated the empowerment
of integrating music to not only provide a fun
learning platform, but showing how music can
make learning relevant and vibrant.
The Duval County Public Schools Literacy Expo 2016
“Building Resilience to Illuminate Determination
Grit and Excellence,” brought in educators, vendors,
and even students like “MoxieGirl” Natalie McGriff
and her awesome mother Angie Nixon
“The Adventures of Moxie Girl” comic book soon
to be an animated series.
“If instruction isn’t Engaging I Quit”
in the minds of students, teachers need to
engage the minds of their students before instruction
begins. Students must see the relevancy and how
to apply what they are learning to their world.
Vincent Taylor – http://CornbreadSeries.com
“What I Learned from Vincent Taylor About
The process of building student engagement…..
1. First Introduce yourself to your students
“What’s Your Name?”
“What is your favorite book?”
*Get to know your students and have them
introduce themselves to the class and what great
qualities they have. “What are you good at?”
*Explore various strategies for engaging students
during instruction during the school year.”
*Keep instruction engaging and relevant so
students can make necessary connections.
2.”What is Student Engagement?
*be able to define your instructional terms
*do you and your principals definition align
with each other?
*Does your mission and vision statements
for your school apply students
engagement in any way? Should it???
* Is there an engagement process for your students?
*Do your students see themselves in the instruction?
*Can your students apply their learning to their
situations or do they need to be taught this?
* Replies from the audience participation
Authentic Inquiry – The students have a point of
view, they should be active and have a vested
interest in what is being taught.
3. Keeping kids from mentally checking out of school.
*If your students are not engaged they will mentally
checkout and potentially create classroom management
*Integrate real world application for each
lesson to show connections for students.
*Occasionally have students manage the instruction
and ask leading questions.
4. Are We communicating with technology?
*In this digital age there is more to integration, what
about implementation, application and relevancy to
*Apply technology to encourage interaction
and application of new skills and knowledge.
*Apply reading by using real books for each student
and supplement instruction using YouTube videos and
5. Ways to Engage Students using Music
*Music – integrating music in your instruction
that connects the student to the learning.
*Students love music and can relate to it.
*Use different musical genres.
*Music “takes you to different places emotionally
*Ask students where music takes them.
6. Applying Rhythmic Reading
*learn how to apply rhythmic reading and
applying to lessons.
7. Using students to demonstrate lessons
to reinforce learning creates leaders and
reduces apprehension and fear of participating
*student centered learning, hands on application
and building student to student relationships.
Present resources like “The Adventures of Moxie Girl”
so students can see and read about similar issues
to build self awareness and self recognition.
*Cornbread series and the diversity of writing
8. Idioms = do you apply them in your teaching
to bring relevancy to learning.
*Idioms are applied in songs that the kids listen to.
*Using music to teach word recognition and comprehension.
9. Applying movement encourages interactive learning
*Today’s students are not static learners, they are
engaged in the learning environment.
* Students have an active part in the learning and
help drive instruction.
*Today’s students need engagement, to be involved
and contribute to the learning.
10. Music encourages the connection to learning and
retention of information.
*using music students “carry” the lessons longer
and can make mental adaptions to apply for future
11. Music applies “rhythmic reading”
music allows reading to be fun and engaging
*Listen to the lyrics of words in songs, how
many times are they repeated and certain
words or phrases emphasized. Students can
“feel” the beat and make the connections with
words, phrases and sentences.
12. Teaching students the “Topic,” “Main Idea”
“Supporting Details” can be done by music.
*Vincent is an experienced educator that applies
these strategies successfully.
13. The importance of “Storytelling”
*How to teach students to be storytellers should
*Children should be taught that their stories
are valuable and are always a work in progress.
*Use Natalie McGriff as a role model for young
*Teachers provide students opportunities to hear
stories to “apply to concepts they can relate to.”
14. What are we as teachers doing to ensure that
they (students) are engaged in the instruction?
*Telling students to listen does not work you have
to involve students and model behaviors.
*Involving students works better than lecturing them.
*Teaching application and implementation is great
and applying is better.
15. Students should see that learning is relevant
to “today,” and applicable to the future.
*Preparing students to be life-long learners
16. Every lesson should be able to be applied to
some real world lesson.
*Students that “dropout” feel un-engaged
and do not have real life connections.
19. Enthusiasm for the lesson should be seen,
heard and felt.
*Teachers must put out there that the lessons
*Interactivity is a prerequisite to learning and
retention of lessons.
20. Teachers need to “monitor engagement”
of their students.
*If teachers don’t understand their students level
of engagement and how to engage them, then
teachers will be ineffective communicators.
*Communication leads to relationship building.
*Teachers have a responsibility to establish a
respectful and positive relationship with
21. The diversity of classrooms demand that teachers
must be “culturally responsive.”
*Lessons must be inclusive to involve
those of color and culture.
*Teachers must engage students with disabilities.
22. Teachers must engage their students with disabilities
to involve them in the learning that is happening.
*Literature is a good way to apply the diversity of
color and culture, gender, and diversity of disabilities.
*What books look like your students.
*The reading library should be diverse enough to bring
curiosity, questioning, application to real world
experiences and fun.
23. Diversify your traditional libraries and
your video libraries.
*Video is a great way to start conversations
and show relevancy with your students.
*Video can lead students to be “smart creatives,”
and developing “thought leaders.”
24. Learning how to apply standards to lessons.
*All lessons should be able to apply standards
25. Students should want to be engaged in
their teachers lessons no matter the subject.
*One of the toughest parts of being a
professional educator is engagement
with your students.
*This should be a priority to make
connections with your students.
Cornbread Series of Books
On treadmill with Cornbread
Main Topic with Vincent Taylor
Kids Meet Cornbread
Facebook for Cornbread
Photos of Vincent Taylor Presentation