Typhani Harris | March 2017

Defining Engagement through STEAM

Engagement is a unique buzzword that blankets our educational landscape.  It is used so frequently but can be so misleading.  Merriam-Webster defines engage as: “to hold the attention of or to induce participation.”  So by definition, as long as we have students’ attention and they are participating, then they are engaged…or are they?  It is hard to compete with smartphones, music, videos, and social media so how can we put the theoretical context of engagement in physical classroom practice? Here, we will discuss Defining Engagement through STEAM.

We are excited to begin our next series: Defining Engagement Through STEAM based on the research of John Antonetti and Phillip Schlechty.

John Antonetti, author of 17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong, has developed student engagement principles through 8 main characteristics that are the foundation of engaging student work qualities as defined by Phillip Schlechty’s Working on the Work.  We are going to take these 8 characteristics and use them to define what engagement looks like in STEAM and Arts Integration.  The following are our upcoming sessions that will share STEAM and Arts Integration strategies, provide templates and rubrics to self-assess, and offer downloadable resources and ultimately define engagement in an actionable way.

Defining Engagement Through STEAM Session Overview

Session 1: Personal Response: encouraging students to use their voices in multiple ways and own their learning.

Session 2: Novelty & Variety highlighting Arts in Schools: arts in schools is vital to engagement, but translating that into core and STEAM subjects through novelty and variety can build engagement.

Session 3: Emotional & Intellectual Safety: ensuring the safety of students in emotional and intellectual capacity will help students to feel comfortable in the environment.

Session 4: Sense of Audience: students invest more of themselves when they create for an audience, beyond just the teacher.

Session 5: Clear/Modeled Expectations highlighting Assessments & the Arts: expectations and criteria are key to student understanding, and when they understand these expectations they are able to work toward them.

Session 6: Learning with Others: collaboration and cooperative learning enhances students engagement in many ways.

Session 7: Choice: when students choose the way in which they demonstrate their knowledge they become engaged because they are doing what they want to do.

Session 8: Authenticity: the more it makes sense in their world and the more it is real to them, the more they are invested in doing it.

We are going to put each of these characteristics under the microscope, and determine how we can put them in action to develop fully engaged classroom environments through STEAM and Arts Integration.

About the Author

Jaime Patterson is the Executive Director of Creative Affairs for The Institute for Arts Integration & STEAM. She is a lifelong supporter of the arts and is passionate about supporting educators in their pathway to teaching and learning through arts integration. Jaime resides in Hanover, Pennsylvania with her husband, Josh, and their three children, Aidan, Lila and Gwyneth.