Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Active Learning is a HOOT!

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What is Active Learning?

According to Cengage Learning active learning is defined as follows:
Active learning is a teaching strategy used in many classrooms today. In active learning, the student constructs learning — often in collaboration with other students. The teacher becomes a facilitator of learning rather than a giver of knowledge. Active learning is a student-centered approach.
A student centered approach provides a learning environment that allows the student to help shape their own experiences through discussion, cooperative learning, discovery learning, inquiry learning, games and independent study.  Depending on the age group you teach, some of these experiences are more appropriate than others.

Active Learning at Work

I am taking a class at Dominican University called Integrating Technology into Programming, Services, and Instruction.  During our last class we prepared a presentation on a active learning project that the 4th grade students at John C. Coonley School in Chicago completed.  

 LinkFirst, the 4th grade class individually voted on their favorite learning style. The visual learners was the most favorable by far. Second, the students used the Coonley Cougars Code of Ethics ~ Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Safe as their project and wanted to visually represent what each code of ethics would look like. After brainstorming ideas, the students collaborated and made a PicCollage of their ideas on each code.  The project was successful and from the Technology Specialists blog post, it looked like the students were engaged and enjoyed the project.
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Then, our instructor put us to the test, she gave us an active learning assignment to come up with a presentation about the Code of Ethics project and once complete, talk about it with the entire technology class.

I was paired with another first grade teacher. We reviewed the materials online and tried to understand the project, the Apps, and Prezi, which all were new to us.  Amanda and I submitted our presentation on the project.  We felt the students did a great job with the assignment and it was a great example of active learning.  We did have some questions on what the final product looked like and it would have been nice to see the students collaborating.  But I came away from the project wondering how I could do the same project in my classroom.

My Turn to Try it...

I love the saying from the Teton Lakota Indians: Tell me and I'll listen. Show me and I'll understand. Involve me and I'll learn.  

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In my opinion, integrating active learning into the established curriculum needs to start small.  I taught a unit on Weather, which had twelve lessons. I picked one lesson and planned the integration of active learning and technology. I decided it would be best if the students could see that their shadows changed based on the time of day and prove the theory that the Earth is rotating. I believe in collaboration, so the students each had a partner. They traced each other's shadow three times during the day: 8:30 am, 12:00 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Also, the students used their iPads to take a picture of their partner's shadow at each visit. Afterwards, the students uploaded their pictures of their shadows into Book Creator and talked about the sun's location, the changes in size and shape, and location of their shadow at each time period. Much to their surprise, the shadow not only moved, but changed size and shape based on where they sun was located. In the final books, the students talked about each shadow picture and describing the changes taking place. This was a very successful learning experience for all. They enjoyed the project and learned about the Earth's rotation in the simplest form.

Teaching Tips & Tricks for Active Learning

I found the CTE resource below to be very helpful in starting active learning in my classroom. Here are some tips to get you started in your classroom:

  • Become familiar with a few active learning techniques.  See link for ideas. 
  • Choose one or two techniques and modify them so that they address learning goals in your class. 
  • Use activities to draw attention to issues and content you feel are most critical.
  • Establish rules of conduct and civility to encourage appropriate participation.
  • Introduce the activity and explain the learning benefit.
  • Control the time cost by giving students a time limit to complete the task.

  • Stop the activity and debrief. Call on a few students or groups of students to share their thoughts and tie them in to the next steps of your lesson.
  • Consider using classroom technology to facilitate active learning activities.

Before you know it, you too will find that Active Learning is a Hoot!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love your project idea! You'll have to show me a finished Book Creator. Thanks for not only sharing your experience with the content but then going back and implementing it on your own!