Engage Me!

I stumbled across an insightful video titled “Engage Me!” that was put together by students at Robin Hood primary school in Burmingham, Alabama. Here are four quotations that stuck out to me as an educator.

“We use blogs & podcasts. Do our teachers?”
“I love help buttons. They make me self-reliant.”
“What if I could set my own homework using the tools I choose?”
“Let me join in with other learners globally.”

The first quote illuminates the technological divide that typically exists between students’ experiences in school and out. Students often engage in a variety of stimulations at home that include audio, visual and interactive, kinesthetic performance. Their motivation depends on us bringing as much of this alternate stimulation into the classroom.

The second quote is perhaps the most insightful. Students are often reluctant to seek out help from others, and I cannot think of a single student who would not benefit from at-home “help buttons,” or available tools and resources that could scaffold their independent learning.

The student presenting the third quote expresses his desire to bring his own tools to play in finishing assignments. If our students are pursuing our objectives, why should we not allow them to use their own tools of interest? Why should the future graphic designer not be allowed to use Adobe Illustrator to create an informative pamphlet on the breeding habits of whales? Why should the future English major not be allowed to write a five-page research report for the same assignment? With the new common core state standards taking away the emphasis from curriculum and exposure and placing it on objectives, teachers have more flexibility with their assignments; they should pass this on to the students.

The fourth quote that I pulled from the video indicates a desire for global communication. We have China at our fingertips. Let’s talk to those students. This bolsters e-communication skills as well as cultural exposure and sensitivity.

Let’s listen to our students, and engage them on their own front—not ours.