Tag Archives: engagement

Engaging Students in the classroom

On Monday, November 21st, Karen Hume and Faye Brownlie presented to a large group of Burnaby teachers.  The theme for Tuned In: Engaging All Learners was engagement; both student engagement and teacher engagement.

120 teachers actively participated in Karen Hume’s session while she spoke of the five C’s that she saw as important to develop greater student engagement: Competence, Creativity, Community, Context and Challenge.  With a mixture of stories, activities, and plenty of teacher-talk time, Karen spoke of the challenge of engaging students, especially when prefaced with the fact that school engagement starts to falter in grade 6 and continues to fall until grade 12.  This really means that students become more and more disengaged as they move through middle and high school.


Students develop, over time, an academic competence.  For this to work, they need a positive connection to an adult in both school and outside of school, an understanding of purpose and relevance of a task to their lives, challenging work, autonomy and confidence that they can be successful.


As we move from the agricultural through the industrial and the information ages, we need to move away from 19th and 20th Century ideas about knowledge and move towards ideas and concepts around innovation and creativity.


Becoming an overused term community really extends to become the full sense of community, where students and teachers feel they belong, are safe and can safely be themselves, have influence and will have their needs met if they support the group as a whole.  Developing this sense of community allows for both the increased engagement and the creative play that needs to take place for schools to be successful.


Students in the 21st Century have very specific ideas of the world and the prevalence of social media.  New technological tools allows for teachers and students to connect their classrooms to anywhere in the world.  This gives greater relevance and allows for students to see the results of their actions in a larger context.


The Hard Fun concept and the idea of flow, as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, allow students to see problems as ones that can be addressed, solved or delved into.  These concepts are seen in almost every video game, where problems are tackled by players and there is opportunity for retrying when success doesn’t immediately happen.  With 21st Century, there is a need to teach content and skills, thinking skills, critical literacy skills and for transfer.

For more on this, I would recommend that you read Karen Hume’s latest book, Tuned Out: Engaging the 21st Century Learner.  You can read my review of the book under Book Review in the Tags section on the right.