Defining "Student Engagement"

Cross-Posted on Tar River Educator

Yesterday I read an interesting article from NASSP entittled Recognizing Rigorous and Engaging Teaching and Learning. The article made the following statement:

“What would an observer expect to see in an engaging classroom? How does an administrator know when teachers and students are performing at a rigorous level? Having clear expectations and knowing what engaging instructional practices look like enables leaders to identify rigorous teaching and learning. When teachers know more specifically what to look for in their teaching and student learning, they are able to assess and reflect upon their own practice. These “look fors” identify what might be observed during a highly engaging, rigorous lesson. They also provide a deeper understanding of the expectations for a highly engaging, rigorous classroom. Let’s look at the indicator “Engages students in learning.” If the teacher is engaging students in learning, the teacher might begin a new lesson with an activity such as an anticipation guide to develop student knowledge and thinking. During the lesson, the teacher might provide opportunities for students to question and challenge each others’ ideas, using well-reasoned arguments. These “look fors” identify what might be observed during a highly engaging, rigorous lesson.

“It is essential that administrators and staff members have the knowledge and understanding of each component within the framework and know how to use the indicators and “look fors” to improve rigorous teaching and learning.”

Here are some of the look-fors the article mentioned:

  1. Develops students’ background knowledge
  2. Activates student knowledge and thinking
  3. Makes connections and integrates new learning with previous learning
  4. Models and thinks aloud the thinking and learning processes
  5. Provides opportunities for students to use and create graphic organizers to facilitate their learning before, during, and after instruction
  6. Uses instructional materials that appeal to diverse backgrounds and cultures
  7. Provides opportunities for students to apply complex concepts and processes
  8. Provides opportunities for students to reflect upon and summarize their learning
  9. Checks for understanding in a variety of ways and modifies instruction to meet student needs
  10. Provides opportunities for all students to think and discuss their ideas with other students
  11. Integrates a variety of technology tools and applications into instructional design and implementation
  12. Uses a variety of techniques that provide for total student response to learning.

Which made me think, what do others look for in classrooms to recognize student engagement when you walk in a classroom? I know for me I’m always looking at #3, 5, 6, and 11 (among others), but I thought maybe this would be an opportunity for other people to chime in on what they look for.

For the original post, click here.


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