In regards to the article, "Using Positive Student Engagement to Increase Student Achievement" I wholeheartedly agree that "students learn more and retain more information when they actively participate in the learning process and when they can relate to what is being taught." This is something that seems very obvious, but it is not always easy to explain to students. I know that when teaching history, students don't always understand why they need to know about certain people or battles. What they don't realize is that they are learning more than just content, but rather higher level thinking skills. While history is important to learn in order to understand cultural differences and how and why things are the way they are, in reality, students are also learning how to evaluate cause and effect, how to understand timelines, and how it relates to events. Getting students to understand that these skills are necessary for everyday life: evaluating cause and effect for their own actions or for current events that will affect their future and also understanding timelines – preparing students to see the relevance of how schedules influence their life is not always easy.
Even so, when students do understand these key points, it makes learning easier for them. Students become engaged when they realize its importance. The students who immerse themselves in learning tend to understand these concepts. (Or at least when they realize that it will benefit them in some way.)
As this article also states, student learning deals with teacher support. When I was a building sub, there were times when students would do work for me when they wouldn't do work for their regular teacher due to the fact that they knew that I cared what they learned. I had a student say to me, "I'll do the work for you because I know you want me to do well. So-and-so just likes watching me fail, so I don't bother." While obviously this was not the case with their teacher, it was obvious that this teacher and student pair had had hardships and the student was under the impression that her teacher didn't care for her, when in reality the teacher was just frustrated that she couldn't figure out how to engage the student.
In regards to the article "26 Keys to Student Engagement" (though it seems to me more like the ABCs of Student Engagement...), the list entails detailed explanations of why and how educators can engage students. I enjoyed this article which was informative, yet to the point (and as an East Asian enthusiast, I really enjoyed the Japanese reference to kaizen or 改善, which is in fact, a very good practice that encourages the great to become even greater). I also really enjoyed the fact that it talked about bringing the outside into the classroom. I have always enjoyed learning more about my students and know that when you can connect to the students, it helps show them that you care. It also makes it easier for a teacher to relate what they are teaching back to the students' daily lives.
In sum, these articles expect teachers to show that they care about students, and that by learning more about our students, teachers can more effectively show students why it is important for them to learn what is being taught, leading to students naturally wanting to become more engaged.