As far as paradigm shifts go, shifting your classroom from a passive to an active learning space isn’t all that revolutionary. Most classroom practitioners would have it in their list of goals to achieve when they begin to plan the year ahead.
This little pearl of wisdom was attributed to Benjamin Franklin some three centuries ago:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Whether or not the thought was an original one is disputed. After all, Confucius is credited with a similar thought some two thousand years earlier:
“I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand.”
Moving from a passive paradigm in order to engage the learner in higher order skills of creating, collaborating and instructing others is the key to active learning. For the learner, active learning can also involve a greater sense of ownership and empowerment of pace, place, path and time in their learning. It puts our students in the driver's seat, and this focus on their learning needs triggers a higher sense of engagement. The more we, as teachers, focus our in-class group activities on maximising and optimising learning, the more effective our teaching becomes and the more opportunity there is for students to achieve success.
Integrating any form of technology into your teaching practice is one way of ensuring you can transform learning outcomes. Through passive strategies, students learn how to ‘repeat and do’ and for some learners, that’s enough. Through active learning strategies, however, we can move our students into the realm of higher order thinking skills, tapping into inquiry, problem-solving, analysis, questioning and collaboration, allowing students to transfer their knowledge beyond the classroom.
Mixing it up in the classroom by making sure you use a variety of delivery modes, as well as learning strategies, immediately puts the student at the centre of the experience rather than the teacher. You can achieve this without having to make a monumental change to what we already know and do well.
My top 8 suggestions for your new school year goal setting:
- Nothing will work if your students aren’t accountable for their own learning;
- Challenge students to prepare for a lesson or topic with some pre-learning;
- Incorporate whatever technology-based or online resources you can find to enhance the delivery;
- Employ group activities and collaborative tasks;
- Personalise the learning experience;
- Build in regular feedback in a variety of modes;
- Encourage independent learning and ownership;
- Chisel away at making that classroom experience the most effective and efficient you can.
It is ultimately about ensuring that you provide a platform of content delivery which is engaging and personalised and enables students to develop their higher order thinking skills.
What is your new (school) year’s resolution?
I’d love to know. Get in touch and we can have a chat.