You know that teaching involves more than the dispensing of facts. It is more important than ever that teachers help students learn HOW to learn. Skills that prepare students for 21st century careers involve more than memorization; critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving are key.
The way to help students gain those skills is by creating lessons that let students learn actively in the classroom.
Image from Flickr via Laurie Sullivan
Benefits of Active Learning
A report from The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology revealed that active learning, versus the lecture method, improves students’ abilities to retain information and exercise critical thinking. It also increases students’ pursuit of STEM majors in college. Research has long shown that students learn more when they participate in the process in various ways—discussion, review, practice or application.
Active learning activities also take into account the different learning styles that students have, and provide activities that may better engage the visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social or solitary learner.
The key to making these ideas are effective is ensuring the activity is tied to a specific learning objective. We’ve rounded up some great ideas to stimulate active learning in your class.
Cool Active Learning Ideas
- Class discussions—held in person or in an online environment, discussions can give individuals a chance to participate. Teachers must encourage students to think critically.
- Learning cells—by pairing two students together to study and learn, this method lets students ask and answer each other questions, giving them a chance to explore and discuss.
- Round Robin activities —divide students into small groups of three or four, and have them pass around a piece of paper in which they each write down facts or information on a prescribed topic for a specific time or until a certain number of facts are created. This allows them to share knowledge in a non-threatening way.
- Stage a talk show–let students interview a historical figure or a character from a recently read book.
- Have students create an infographic—let students visually represent their knowledge through a variety of tools such as Visual.ly, Piktochart, Canva, and Dipity
- Create a website based on a recent history lesson—have students design a simple page or a few pages that incorporates stories, pictures, interviews, or role plays about the lesson.
- Hold class games—games like Chip Clip create a fun way for students to use and discover different strategies to solve math problems.
- Make a story —students sit in a circle and one begins with a story prompt. Each student in the circle adds to the story. This activity encourages collaboration, and can also be used to recreate event timelines or exchange facts.
- Ask what was the muddiest point—just before the end of class, ask students to reflect and write a 1-2 minute response on what was the muddiest point (alternatively, what was the most important point).
- Use exit tickets to stimulate thinking and conversation—have students consider and complete sentences such as:
- Today I learned…
- I was surprised when…
- Now I understand…
Active learning helps create an excitement and engagement in the class, which helps build a desire to gain more knowledge.
Editor’s note: This article is a revision and combination of several older Edudemic articles, updated and re-analyzed to reflect the latest innovations.