Today I attended a full-day training by Learning Forward for strategies and tips to use when facilitating professional learning. After the six hours of training, I am confident and excited to implement what I learned! The session was jam-packed with new-to-me strategies, as well as several that have been in my repertoire for quite some time. But, as I reflect on my learning, I can't help but think about the students that sit in our classrooms each day. Are students feeling bored, overwhelmed, confused or frustrated, or are they feeling confident and excited about their learning?
Regardless of your students age (children, adults, or anyone in between), ALL learners deserve to leave "class" feeling engaged, empowered, and excited about their learning. Below are a few of my favorite teaching strategies that I use, or plan to use, whether I'm teaching other teachers or students.
Strategies for Success
- Learners need to be involved in the learning as much as possible!
- Know your audience/learners in order to connect and/or relate to them.
- Use music to set the mood, to keep the momentum flowing and the energy going.
- Allow time for learners to explore the content but vary the context in which they explore the content. (i.e. alone, with a partner, in a small group, or as a whole class)
- Break the information/content into small chunks to allow your learners time to "chew" on, or process, the information. (Did you know that, on average, people tend to zone out after about 15-20 minutes of listening?)
Tools of the Trade to Make Learning Active
- Give and Get - Give learners a BINGO like card to write down several takeaways from the lesson. Have learners move around the room to "give" (share) one of their takeaways with a partner and then "get" a new takeaway from that partner. Then, rotate and repeat with a new partner.
- Ports of Exploration - Have learning ports (stations) spread about the room or building. Learners move about the room to complete as many activities as time allows or specify the minimum number of ports to visit/complete.
- Flamingo Share - Learners pair up and each partner shares/discusses/responds to specified topic but can only speak for the amount of time he/she can stand on one leg.
- Simile Summaries - Learners write a simile to compare the learned concept to something that is relevant to them to summarize their learning. (i.e. ______ is like ______ because _____)
- Movie Memos - Pair students and give them (randomly or assigned) one or two concepts, vocabulary words, problems, etc. to illustrate on large manila paper. Tape their illustration to the wall and explain it to the class. When new concepts are learned have a new set of students repeat the process and add their illustration to the "movie" wall. Then, before tests or at various points in the year, have students face the "movie" wall and allow them to review the memos (or illustrations about what they've learned thus far). With the illustrations and the students explaining their learning, it will be a movie of their learning!
As you go forward and provide learning opportunities, I hope you will try one of the above strategies, but more importantly, I hope your learners have the opportunity to be active in their learning process.
Do you have a favorite strategy to get learners involved? I'd love to hear about it!