Active Learning Strategies
Students learn more effectively and deeply when they are actively engaged in their learning. This week, we focus on strategies you can use to incorporate "active learning" into the classroom.
This Week's Tips
Active Learning Incorporates Active Discussion (Monday)
Encourage active discussion among students. Communication among students allows them to take ownership of new ideas. Discussion groups bring a more dynamic element to the classroom while allowing students to develop their verbal skills. Keep groups on task by assigning a student to document what is discussed in each group. Consider including a participation component in their grade.
Active Learning Involves Conceptual Understanding (Tuesday)
Build conceptual and procedural understanding simultaneously. Help students see how and why a procedure works rather than simply learning a procedure by repetition. Have students write a paragraph or draw a picture to describe the concept behind the procedure. Consider assessing students on how they got an answer, in addition to the answer itself.
Active Learning Requires Real World Connections (Wednesday)
Connect learning to the real world. Students need to see why what they learn in school is important. A great way to do this is by connecting concepts to their world, whenever possible. For example, if you're studying physics or geometry, consider organizing an outing to a playground or amusement park to see abstract concepts in action.
Background Knowledge Builds Active Learning (Thursday)
Build on what students already know. Find out what your students already know about a new topic by conducting an open discussion. Use the discussion to dispel their misconceptions and generate interest in the topic. Begin by drawing a large circle on the blackboard. As students call out ideas, write those that fit the concept in the circle and those that don't outside of it. This way, students can begin to visualize the topic and remember which ideas are not related.
Be an Active Listener at Conferences (Friday)
Actively listen to the parents' concerns and comments. Remember that a conference should be an opportunity for a “free” exchange of information. Ask open-ended questions and guide parents through these questions to help them draw conclusions about a plan of action that will help the student. Listen closely, paraphrase their responses, and try to put yourself in the shoes of the parent or student. Consider what the parents are feeling to understand better how best to help the child succeed in the classroom.