We live in a time of immediate feedback. Our students don’t know a world where they couldn’t get the answer to something within seconds of typing it into a device, which is never more than an arm’s width away. They never had to get up to change the channel on their television, wait for their sibling to get off the internet in order to make a phone call, and they will most likely never be somewhere Google maps can’t give them directions out of. These advances in technology are wonderful, but they make learning a challenge for kids and teenagers with extremely low motivation levels and very short attention spans.
This is why interactive learning is so relevant. Interactive learning happens when students take a hands-on approach to their subject matter. Interactive learning can look very different, but no matter how it is utilized, this form of pedagogy encourages creativity, focus, and allows for immediate feedback. Long ago are the days of the monotone lecture while students obediently take notes. As educators, we need to understand that the best way for our students to learn is to let them in on the process. If you feel a little lost on how to incorporate this into your classroom, look over the following ideas. No matter the grade level, kids of all ages enjoy activities that engage them in a kinesthetic way.
1. Think, Pair, Share
One of the most commonly known interactive learning styles is the think, pair, share the technique. What I like about this is that it can be used in so many different ways. The teacher proposes a question or task, the students each think on it individually, then share their thoughts with a partner before sharing out as the whole group. This gives students a non-intimidating way to share their thoughts with a peer but keeps them from having to put themselves in the vulnerable position of volunteering a response to a room full of students.
2. Take a Side
I like to use this activity when discussing controversial topics in my room. It also works well as an anticipatory activity when starting a new unit. The teacher proposes a statement, and students line up on different sides of the room depending on their personal opinion. You can expand this activity by adding more and more statements to sway opinion, and you could even let your kids debate with each other. At the very least, it gets your students up and out of their seats and allows them to see the opinions or ideas of their peers.
3. Interactive Notebooks
This is a great way to get your students to be present in their note-taking and in their learning. Cutting, pasting, creating flip books, coloring, and writing are all components of an interactive notebook and each of these demands attention from your students. If you teach in the higher grades, you can cut templates out on your own time so as to not “baby” your big kids, but I have seen 10th and 11th graders really love this “arts and crafts” part of a class. The best part of interactive notebooks is that they can be utilized in any classroom; math, English, social studies, or science. There is a plethora of information and free templates on the internet, ready for you to use for interactive learning.
4. Online Collaboration
There is SO much available on the internet to help us teachers with getting our students to engage and work with each other. Google Docs/Slides is a commonly used tool to have students collaborate on projects, but there are a ton more out there that are free for you to use! Socrative, Kahoot, and Quizizz are a few that allow the teacher to develop quizzes or questions, and then students can compete with each other, which they love. Wevideo, Animoto, or Mysimpleshow are sites that will let your students create videos for class projects. Whatever you already do in your classroom can be amplified by doing a little research to find other mediums for your students to use and promote interactive learning.
My biggest piece of advice is to give your students choice when it comes to assessment. Instead of simply assigning an essay, give them the option of writing that essay, or creating a poster, a slideshow, a music video, give a speech, etc. You can still attach a writing component to the “easier” choices, but it allows for students to pick what they will excel at. Some students like lecture, structure, and being told exactly what to do, but others need more freedom and prefer to work with their hands or their mind. It is our job to make sure we give them that opportunity.
This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools
To reach Lauren, please contact here.
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