professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Engagement not Estrangement

I so love this phrase that came from a recent article discussing grammar instruction and the CCSS. It is also the focus of this blog post: about what kids say motivate them to learn. I want to pause here briefly and note that motivation and engagement are, in my own mind, not identical. So in this post, I am only talking about some factors I believe are motivational ones for our kids. The author of the blog post surveyed her own students, middle school kids, about what they believe engages them. As always, I began reading this piece with several questions in mind:

1. How did the kids perceive the meaning of the word "engagement"? There are many meanings. Did the kids come up with their own? Did the teacher define the term? Was there agreement about the meaning?
2. What were the individual responses? I can see the 10 categories, but I want more specifics.
3. How might answers be different if I asked 6th graders, 4th graders, 10th graders? What if I asked kids in a different state, district, school? How would answers change to reflect a different environment, meaning, etc?

So, here is a starting point, I believe. The kids who responded talked about choice, project based learning (though they did not use that terms, it was the terms used by the author), teacher caring and passion, and variety. I know that teachers who build community in their classrooms have all these opportunities already in place for kids. Their classrooms might look a little different from one teacher to another, but some elements are constant. Ask kids, "what makes you feel ore inclined to get involved in a lesson, books, discussion?" I would ask the converse as well: "what makes you want NOT to get involved?"
Tags: engagement, motivation

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