You often hear people talk about how technology is so “engaging” for kids. But that misses the point. It’s not the technology that’s engaging, it’s the opportunity to use technology to create something that is valued by the community and by yourself. Yes, a new device can be entertaining for a while, but when the novelty value wears off, what are you left with?
Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work. Meaningful to themselves AND to the community they are in. Meaningful because someone trusted them to do something good and they shouldered the responsibility. Trust engenders trust in yourself and in others. Joining as a citizen of a community, whether that community is a classroom or a virtual tribe, where you belong, and your voice is valued and encouraged. True citizenship is a two-way street, not a list of rules and punishments.
Engagement is not something you DO to kids or you GIVE kids, it’s the outcome of this cycle of experiences.