This is post four in the 11 for '11 series. I'm writing about 11 things that are on my mind as we begin the 2011-2012 school year.
I've decided to delete the phrase "student engagement" from my vocabulary. I think it confuses more than it explains. Is the boy sitting in the back row, doodling in the margins of his notepad, engaged? Maybe he is. Maybe he's connecting and synthesizing new information as he doodles. Then again, maybe he's not. The problem is that you don't know. The problem is that "student engagement" isn't measurable or observable.
Interaction, on the other hand, is both measurable and observable. You can check for understanding as students interact with each other and with you. You can check for understanding when a student writes about his or her interaction with a text. Interaction is teachable, observable, and measurable.
Make this year less about educational jargon and more about interacting.