Are Your Lessons Interesting, Engaging, and Maybe Even a Little Fun?
The days of overly long, bored-to-tears lectures are drawing to an overdue end. There are so many tools and techniques at our disposal to make learning more active and encourage more student participation and ownership of learning.
Get students thinking, moving, and creating … involve them in their own learning. Make your classroom a place they like to be. Here's a handful of techniques that can be applied to just about any academic subject. Some involve technology, and some don't.
“I will talk and you will listen … for a long time!”
Image modified and used with permission (source: http://paulstickland.blogspot.co.uk/)
1. Change up that l..o..n..g lecture
Would YOU really want to sit in a seat for 60 to 90 minute or longer listening to a lecture and taking notes? Really? Well, maybe if it was you giving the lecture …right? But seriously, while the lecture is a vital and essential part of teaching many classes, try to break it up a little! See if you can find some other expert content to bring a fresh voice and different perspective to your voice. There is an abundance of good instructional videos and web content out there, for free, just a Google Search away.
2. Change up your face!
Well, not exactly. What I mean is … bring in a guest speaker, or any other relevant guest. They can come in person, or you can bring them in virtually! There are plenty of good tools that allow for this – Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and other options can bring that far away guest speaker, expert, or collaborator into your classroom for free.
3. Research and Share – Find a topic and let students dig into it and share their findings
I have assignment focused on Email Etiquette in which students, working in class, are to find two good online sources that provide tips about good professional email etiquette, and then write a simple one page assignment based on them. They are to summarize each article's primary point in short paragraphs, and create a Bibliography using the MS Word wizard. So in addition to getting introduced to the topic, they are working on their writing skills.
This assignment precedes a WSQ assignment in which I give them a video and a web page offering an extensive set of Email Etiquette “Dos and Don'ts”. In the class that follows we will go over each of these email etiquette tips. They will have been exposed to them three times, in different ways, helping to let the ideas take hold, while not being too repetitive in how the content is delivered.
4. Get Active
Any time you can get students to actively apply something they learn, the more likely they are to engage with what they are learning and retain more of it. How you choose to get active will vary depending on the type of class you offer, but here's a few ideas:
- Use an Interactive Collaboration tool, like one of the 2o suggested in this article
- Have a Debate!
- Use a “Quick Question” poll tool like Socrative a few times during class (students will need a smartphone or other computer device to participate)
- Try a Problem Based Learning project (here's a resource: pblprojects.org)
- Have students self-select to demonstrate various concepts to the class themselves!
5. Let's Students Create
There are so many ways to let students create as a part of the learning process. Rarely is a student more engaged in their learning than when they are creating something. Whether it's digital or physical, making something can be a fun, illustrative way to bring meaning to learning. Make a 3D model of a mathematical concept, create a picture to illustrate a story or concept, make a word cloud to while studying vocabulary words, recreate a classic artwork or historical architecture with toothpicks and buttons … the possibilities are endless!
For those who wants to take a deeper dive into using technology as part of engaged learning, check out this recent article: 8 Engaging Ways to use Technology in the Classroom to Create Lessons That Aren’t Boring.