What’s the Buzz: Active Learning

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whats-the-buzz_-active-learningSometimes, when thinking about educational buzzwords, we only think about student applications.  As a coach, I realize that I need to apply the same concept when working with adults.  Active Learning is a concept that applies when working with adults as well as with children.

As educators, we pick up and use buzzwords all the time.  We may assume that we know what the word or phrase is from context – after all, that’s one great way to pick up vocabulary.  But we don’t always stop to make sure that we have a clear understanding or definition of the concept.  Most would agree that active learning refers to engaging your learners through activities. But it’s easy to forget that the type of activity is important as well. Changing instruction in this way increases motivation and can stimulate higher order thinking.

So what type of activities foster active learning?  Good question.  Here are a few ideas:

Collaborative assignments – when students work together to reach a goal, they are invested in the outcome.  One example might be to have students use SearchTeam to research a topic and then build a presentation using Microsoft Sway.

Discussions – whether online or face to face, discussions can be very engaging.  Use a learning management system such as Edmodo, or an application like TodaysMeet.  Padletwith its new comments feature—is another engaging way to encourage discussion. Make sure to cover “ground rules” first so that behavioral expectations are understood.

Real-world problem solving – give learners a case or problem to solve together, and they could surprise you.  There are many simulation programs available to use in small groups or as a whole class.  One of my favorites is Mission-US.

The TeachersFirst OK2Ask team is making a concerted effort to include more active learning strategies in our professional learning sessions.  What strategies do you use in your classroom to foster active learning?  Here are a few resources to learn more:

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About the author: Ruth Okoye

Dr. Ruth Okoye is the Director of K12 Initiatives at The Source for Learning. As a long-time technology coach, Ruth shares ideas and strategies for professional learning and thoughts on how to motivate yourself to “dig deeper” into educational technologies.


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