Home » Uncategorized » Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but I hate this word

Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but I hate this word

It sends shivers down my spine.

It’s something I’m expected to do.

Not only that, it’s taken for granted that it’s something I believe in.

I know, I know Dewey. Yes, I hear ya Eisner.

The student is at the centre of the curriculum.

And mine are. I consider their needs. I build a classroom library that is rich with books they love. I differentiate. I conference. I embrace their interests and include them in our learning.

What I don’t do it start a lesson, or a unit, asking myself, “How am I going to engage my students?”

That is looking at HOW. It’s not looking at WHY.

And this is why the term engagement sends me off in frenzy.

Of course I want to engage my students. I want them to be invested. I want them to be involved, physically and mentally. Through careful planning and consideration of who my students are, engagement is a result, not a hook.

But, I have started to see the word engagement as something we do to trick them into learning. It a toy, it’s a gadget, it’s an iPad, it’s the latest and greatest website or Web 2.0 tool. I’m asked, “How are you engaging your students?”

Which leads me to the root of my problem with the word engagement…technology and engagement.
It came to me mid-way through the school year. I was part of an action research group that was looking at IPad use in Math. We had a question (shhh…another secret, I helped to develop the question) that went something like, How will using IPads in Math help to engage our students and increase their basic math skills?
I started fielding questions about how engaged my students must be because we had IPads in our class. And then one day it dawned on me. It wasn’t about the IPads. It was about the needs of the students. I really wanted to help them improve their basic math understanding. The IPad was just another method to get them to that goal. The IPad was just the modern day flash card!
Then, inspired by our class discussions and shaping my understanding of 21st Century Literacy, I stumbled upon this…
courtesy of teachthought.com
YES! Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

Is engagement important for 21 century literacies? You bet.

Will technology bet part of that? Absolutely.

Will it be a means of demonstrating learning in a developmentally, socially relevant way? I hope so.

Will it give students a chance to “see” themselves in their learning? For sure.

Will it be used to hook them into learning? I hope not.

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