Given the emphasis placed on levels of academic achievement in schools, the way in which students acquire knowledge through the learning process has become a subject of primary concern. Research has shown us that there are several factors that play a significant role in learning; placing particular emphasis on student engagement. This research defines student engagement and describes various methods used to measure it, both in empirical research studies and at the classroom level.
Accountable talk and Constructive Engagement - this term is the driving force behind the reading and speaking standards. Students talk; however, they need to be taught how to participate in this type of ‘talk’. Children must be shown how to cultivate a climate of debate, questioning and multiple interpretations. They must think about how to disagree with each other in ways that allow the other person to hear what is being said and to build on the discussions.
When we think about classroom instruction, and the major subjects taught to our children; we rarely think about how to get kids talking about their learning; however, it is through this process that students construct meaning. If we want children to reach the speaking and listening standards (which “bridge” success to all of the 21st learning standards), we as educators must teach them how to talk, debate, collaborate, defend and critique.
Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning; however, not all talk sustains learning. For classroom talk to promote learning it must be accountable to the learning community, to accurate and appropriate knowledge, and to rigorous thinking. Accountable Talk seriously responds to and further develops what others in the group have said. It puts forth and demands knowledge that is accurate and relevant to the issue under discussion. Accountable Talk uses evidence appropriate to the discipline, (ex. proof in math, data from investigations in science, textual detains in literature, or documentary sources in social studies), and follows established norms of good reasoning. There is Rigor in quality Accountable Talk. There is NO rigor in passive listening. Teachers should intentionally create the forms and skills of Accountable Talk in their classrooms.
“Children who are engaged show sustained behavioral involvement in learning activities accompanied by a positive emotional tone. They select tasks at the border of their competencies, initiate action when given the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning tasks; they show generally positive emotions during ongoing action, including enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, and interest.” (e.g., Mathewson, 1994; Wigfield, 1997)
The opposite of engagement is apathy; disenfranchised children are passive, do not put forth effort and give up easily in the face of challenges. They have little stamina and do not persist at tasks. They are often bored, depressed, anxious, or even angry about their presence in the classroom; they can be withdrawn from learning opportunities or even rebellious towards teachers and classmates.
If you want to engage students, you have to work at it. You must structure time and systems so students are able to collaborate and then you have to listen, really listen, to become the facilitator they need in order to create success.
Sharon Haddy, Consultant
With 30+ years as an educator under her belt, Sharon Haddy is able to speak from experience in her sessions and educators recognize that. Professional development with Sharon won’t be just sit-and-get. She is able to model all of the instructional changes giving people the experience as their getting the knowledge. Sharon is not just a trainer. She is a partner in change for teachers and administrators. Throughout her career, Sharon focused on underperforming students, fascinated by the reasons children weren’t making it in public education. Sharon goes into every district and school with the same belief: All kids can learn and can take responsibility for their learning to become involved and engaged in their education. The students that continue to contact Sharon after all these years are a testament to the impact she has had in education.