Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spaghetti Boils Over During Student Engagement #edchat

“How do teachers know when students are engaged?” asked the organizers of last Tuesday’s #edchat.  They received an earful of responses!
@Blairteach quipped, “Maybe it's like the Supreme Court definition of porn--you know it when you see it.” @Techsavvyed observed, “You measure engagement in the classroom same way you decide if it's cold enough outside for a coat, you just know.”
Some participants described specific times they know a student is engaged in learning.
@PernilleRipp: “When they go home and blog about it” and “when they groan because you asked them to get ready for something else.”
@8Rinaldi: “When students volunteer to give up snack/recess to Skype with other students in diff time zone.”
@BosleyAmy: “When lunch lady asks about what's being taught bc kids excitedly talking about it during lunch.”
@MarkBarnes19: “When they ask insightful, topical questions that shock you.”
@BroomerJG: “When they can't stop talking about a topic.”
@ahenrey: “When they refuse to go to recess. When their friends come to get them and end up joining the lesson.”
@DebbieFuco: “When they work on their Glogs and Prezis at all hours of the night.”

Other participants identified words they associate with engagement in learning.
Passion @21stPrincipal: It “happens when students are passionately connected with the learning.”
Excitement @LopezBraus: “Isn’t true engagement the same thing as excitement?” 
Flow @MbTeach: “When I think of engagement, I think of flow--completely losing yourself in what you are doing because it's so engrossing or challenging.”
@MrsBeck25, @Cantiague_Lead, @DoctorJeff and others focused on student ownership of the work as another key indicator of engagement in learning. When students own the work, they are not just working for a grade.
@VMC_Teachers: “An engaged student doesn't care much how to ‘win points’, rather than gain knowledge/ability/understanding."
@Elizeducation: “The engaged student is not worried about the grade, but more likely to get a good one.”
@Lhowe100: “You know students are engaged when they don't ask, ‘Is this going to be on the test?"
@TekkieTalk: “I have had students work on projects after a grade has been given because they wanted it to be better.”
@Matt_Arguello: “If they're spending their own time discussing, we've done something right.”
@AndrewTeacher: “When they talk about home or personal change I'm pleased.”
@cybraryman1: “When they take the learning home on their own & want to extend their knowledge you know they are really engaged.”
@Vmc_teachers: “There is a drive, perseverance, a feeling that the student takes it personal rather than as a task.”
The concept of student interest in work/learning extending beyond getting a good grade is at the heart of the distinction that Phil Schlechty makes between ritualistic engagement and authentic engagement. For other posts on Schlechty and student engagement click here, here, and here. @KStansberry asked, “Lots of tweets on engagement (that suggest that it is) caring about more than grades, but can desire for good grades help promote engagement?” Students may be compliant. They may work hard to get a good grade. But this compliance or ritualistic engagement differs from authentic engagement.
@BlairTeach: “Keep in mind there is a BIG difference between ‘compliance’ & engagement.
@Delta_DC: “We need to recognize difference btwn engagement & conformity.”
@StumpTeacher: “We can't confuse engagement with ‘on task’ behaviors.”
@BroomerJG: “Engagement should never be confused with being on task.”

Authentic engagement leads to deeper, longer-lasting understanding. This occurs because students are more likely to analyze, synthesize, and apply information rather than just memorize it. They ask better questions and make better connections. They persist when work is difficult, leading to greater understanding.
@davidwees engagement is often the gateway to learning
@JudyBrunner: “When engaged, students ask meaningful questions and want meaningful answers. They then follow up with more thought provoking?’s.”
@MrsBeck25: I “notice my students are engaged when responses are their own interpretation and not a regurgitation of the text book.”
@Lookforsun: “I do believe perseverance is part of engagement, a very important part.”

So, the latest #edchat certainly expanded participants’ understanding of student engagement, as indicated by positive comments regarding the #edchat. @Ktvee even commented, “True teacher engagement is when your spaghetti boils over because you can't quit talking about engagement on edchat.” @Ktvee, I hope the #edchat was worth the mess in your kitchen!

I hope to blog in the near future regarding other aspects of the #edchat regarding student engagement, including the discussion of whether educators can take steps to increase student engagement.

Special thanks to @jswiatek for maintaining the #edchat archive. To see the archive of the #edchat discussion regarding student engagement, click here. #edchat is held at noon and 7 p.m., EST, on Tuesdays. For more information, click here.

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