More and more, it’s being realized that the classic learning style of an active teacher and passive students is not the ideal learning environment. Lecturing students can lead to disinterest and boredom. Active learning has been shown to help students enjoy learning more. There are several ways you can encourage your students to be active learners in your classroom.
Have discussions with your students rather than lecturing them. Make sure they are active participants in their lessons, and not just by having them answer comprehension questions. Rather than telling them how, say, photosynthesis works, prompt them with questions and conjecture about each step along the way, and let them make hypotheses. Then look up the answers as a class.
Another way to get students to be active learners is to give group work or have students work with a partner. In math class, for example, give students a difficult question and then pair or group students together to work on the problem. In reading class, divide the class into small groups after story time and have them discuss the theme of the story or a topic related to the story.
Make use of activities often. Have your students dress up and act out a play on the topic they are learning in social studies, for example. Or while learning a new math concept, enlist the help of several students to come to the front of the class to demonstrate different concepts like measurement. Science class lends itself especially well to active learning through experiments or even exploring outdoors.
Make use of teaching tools that help encourage active learning. Further blog posts will go into more depth on these, but one example would be a ‘KWL chart’. The chart is divided into three columns…the ‘K’ stands for what students already know, the ‘W’ stands for what they want to learn, and the ‘L’ stands for what they’ve learned. When introducing a topic, draw up this chart and discuss with the students what they already know about the topic. This engages them. Then, further pique their interest by asking we them what they’d like to learn about the topic. Finally, after the lesson or unit is concluded, fill out the last section as a class with what they’ve learned.
In all of these situations, you as the teacher become the facilitator of learning. You allow the students to discover things on their own or while working together and with you. Your roll is to guide them in the right direction while learning and to provide the knowledge as well, except you’re letting them come to their own understandings at the same time.