We are in the final process of completing our Continuous Improvement Plan. A major part of this plan is student engagement. What exactly is student engagement? Our source literature defines it as:
- 1) The extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, have a sense of belonging at school, participate in academic and non-academic activities, strive to meet the formal requirements of schooling, and make a serious personal investment in learning.” (J. Douglas Willms, 2009) and/or 2) “Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning” (Barkley, 2010). Barkley further clarifies her definition by adding, “The definition of active learning, where students make information or a concept their own by connecting it to their existing knowledge and experience, is critical to student engagement.”
After reading this, many still ask “What is student engagement?” To me student engagement is having students become active stakeholders in their learning. This can be done by giving purpose to student learning and giving the students a degree of autonomy.
Recently, I stumbled upon an example of student engagement. Our grade 3 teacher, Mr. Parr, guided his students in a project. A student from another school, Sydney, was making a trip to Kenya to visit an orphanage. Mr. Parr invited his students to raise money for the orphanage. One bake sale later and the grade 3 class raised $250. While on her trip to Kenya, Sydney frequently updated the grade 3s. One day I entered the class and Sydney was calling Mr. Parr on FaceTime. Within seconds, Mr. Parr had his iPhone linked to the Smartboard and the 3P class was using FaceTime with a student in Kenya. That is student engagement. Our grade 3s saw a definite purpose and sense of autonomy as they saw where their fundraising efforts were going. The grade 3 class was definitely engaged in their learning.
PS – I have also noticed students are very engaged with a fresh dump of new snow!