ENGAGING STUDENTS OF POVERTY: Practical Strategies That Raise


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Brenda McKinney




The bad news is that poverty can create chronic, devastating changes in the brain. It would be easy to look at the statistics and want to give up. The good news is that there are powerful solutions to boost attendance, lessen behavior issues and turn your classroom into a high performance success, BUT you need the engagement strategies to help you do your job well. High performing students need high performing teachers. Every student deserves a caring engaging teacher. Attitudes and the strategies of yesterday are not enough.

Join me to upgrade your teaching skills. Make it a priority to engage far more students every day. Fasten your seatbelt: These strategies work for all kids across the grade and content levels. Sign up NOW for an engaging, fast moving, practical experience. Appropriate for all educators and administrators K-12.



LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Understood why engagement is a vital factor in achievement.
  2. Discovered factors crucial for engagement that are tied to socio-economic status.
  3. Discovered purposeful engagement strategies that allow you to upgrade your skill set.
  4. Discovered how you can create a high-energy, engaging, positive class.
  5. Focused on how to build cognitive capacity through engagement, greater student motivation and effort.
  6. Learned to deepen and sustain the learning and understanding of content.
  7. Learned to automate engagement and use instructional time more effectively.
  8. Discovered ways to empower students to take ownership of their own learning.
  9. Designed activities to create an exciting but realistic action plan, generate ideas, and implement the learning.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit.  The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit. 


Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Text, Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement,  is required and I would prefer that hard books are used because they will become a reference for you.

  • Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement
    ISBN# 1416615725
    by Eric Jensen
    Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development

    Buy from Amazon


Text: Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement is available used on Amazon from $11 and up. I recommend that all of my students purchase the book and not download this one on an electronic device. It is meant to be a handbook for you.


Brenda McKinney, CEO of Vancouver, WA based BrainVolution, is a developer and dynamic facilitator of workshops that teach practical thinking and learning tools for raising student achievement with the brain in mind. She has trained educators throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a popular presenter because of her ability to motivate, make things fun, and teach practical techniques for the classroom that can be used immediately. Brenda continues to read hundreds of books and articles on the subject of neuroscience and searches for the answer to success for every student. Her work with at-risk students and those with reading problems have made her a popular speaker at the state, regional and national level.

Brenda is able to synthesize the new research and continues to address the role of how to use the latest findings to create high achievement classroom. She brings 30+ years of experience at the elementary, middle school, high school and university level as a mentor teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, university instructor, and reading specialist. Brenda has her Master’s in Education from Washington State University and is nationally certified in Brain Based Learning through the renowned  Jensen Corporation, led by Eric Jensen, a noted international spokesperson for neuroscience and education.


Brenda will inspire and motivate you with her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. Her wisdom, techniques, and brain based approach to education will inspire you and challenge you to meet the demands of this ever changing world.


ENGAGING STUDENTS OF POVERTY: Practical Strategies That Raise

Allen, Rich & W.W. Wood. The Rock & Roll Classroom. Using Music to Manage Mood, Energy, and Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2013. This is a terrific resource if you need music ideas for the classroom. Rich will also provide everything you need to know about song choices, what to play in the background, and what to use to get kids moving, and how to settle them down. Even if you know music, that doesn’t mean you know how and when to incorporate. I believe you will find this one invaluable.
Dweck, Carol. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine. 2006. Dweck’s work should be included in any study on engagement. If you have not already read the book or taken the Mindset course from Heritage, this would be a perfect addition to your toolbox. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals—personal and professional. Understanding the mindsets of all students, parallels reasons why they all need to be engaged in order to be successful. Don’t miss this selection.
Jensen, Eric.  Poverty with the Brain in Mind. What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do about It. ASCD. 2009. Eric’s book was the basis for my first poverty course, Poverty and the Brain. You do NOT need to have read this book in order to succeed with Engaging Brains of Poverty.  It is, however, a must read if you teach in a poverty school and have not already embraced the latest science.
Jensen, Eric. Top Tunes for Teaching: 977 Song Titles & Practical Tools for Choosing the Right Music Every Time. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2005. This resource offers research-based tips and lists of songs that can enhance cognition, improve memory, energize sluggish learners, and make lessons fun for students of all ages.
Jensen, Eric. Tools for Engagement Managing Emotional States for Learner Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2003. Newer version is now available. This resource provides more than 150 practical and creative activities to promote student curiosity and accountability, ease transitions, boost confidence, and enhance understanding and retention. This was the book that I carried to every class and used every day. It is an amazing reference and resource.
Jensen, Eric & LeAnn Nickelsen. Deeper Learning. 7 Powerful Strategies for In-Depth and Longer-Lasting Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2008. This book for Grades 4–12 outlines the Deeper Learning Cycle (DELC), a brain-based teaching model for applying powerful learning and content processing techniques to everyday instruction. This book has a ton of resources and engagement ideas. Intensive with information, but lots of great ideas.
Yazzie-Mintz, E. Voices of students on engagement: A report on the 2006 High School Survey of Student Engagement. Bloomington, IN: Center of Evaluation on Education Policy, Indiana University. 2007. If you are looking for proof that engagement and brain breaks are necessary for academic achievement, then you will want to consult this resource.