What does engagement sound like? Allowing students to have a say in their work is not enough to build engagement. Adam Fletcher writes a great blog on engagement, including this entry: voice and engagement are not the same.
In the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom (#LATIC), engagement refers to the state in which students are thoroughly engrossed in their work, intrinsically motivated, with a purposeful destiny and path. Here’s one way to assess engagement.
What do you hear in the classroom? As students are working, walk around for about five minutes and jot down what you hear them saying to one another. Then categorize those as:
- Clarification (asking for or giving)
- Help (asking for or giving)
- Aha Moment
- Facing Failure
You should hear them all! These are the sounds of engagement. While the first few might indicate mere compliance, as you move down the list and as you hear them all, you’ll know you’re observing higher levels of engagement. (Use this tool to make your assessment easier.)
When students are asked to solve authentic, open-ended problems; self-assess; collaborate with others; manage their time; manage learning resources; and advocate for their own learning, these are the sounds of success: the sounds of engagement.
You can increase engagement by ensuring that:
- Your problem-based task is driving instruction; that it hooks and motivates students to want to solve the problem
- Students use the rubric first to determine their learning goals and then look to the activity list for opportunities to learn
- Your activity list has learning activities that promote engagement over compliance; that is, that they connect closely with the task and rubric: no worksheets without a task-related purpose!
- You’ve read Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom. 😉
Engaging students is an important step in positioning them for higher achievement and a rewarding life. Go change the world!