The lack of skill-based and creative education in conventional modes of instruction presents many challenges to learners and educators alike. To counter this, more educators and institutions are turning to active learning strategies.
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In a traditional classroom environment, the teacher delivers a lecture while the students passively receive instruction. But considering the curious nature of kids, monotonous lectures can result in classroom boredom, which inevitably occurs when a given task lacks autonomy and meaning.
Alternatively, an active classroom enables children to actively participate in interactive activities and discussions instead of merely sitting and listening to lectures. Since they have more control over the process, kids are more likely to focus and retain information with active learning.
This article delves into the best active learning methods for kids and the essential role teachers play. Let’s begin by understanding the concept of active learning in the classroom and why it’s vital to implement.
What is Active learning?
Active learning is a classroom approach that involves direct interaction with the subject matter or learning materials. It builds on constructivism, a learning theory that asserts learners actively construct or develop their understanding instead of passively taking in information.
Instead of focusing solely on what they learn, active learning centers on how learners acquire knowledge. Educators must also provide opportunities requiring students to engage in different activities while simultaneously considering their actions.
The terms listed below are commonly associated with active learning. They all place significant importance on the learner’s essential participation and involvement in learning. Their definitions and uses, however, may vary among different authors.
- Student-centered learning: This approach focuses on the student’s needs and interests. Moreover, it enables learners to actively participate in the learning process by letting them decide what content to learn and how to acquire it.
- Discovery learning: This strategy allows learners to uncover ideas and knowledge by exploring concepts, objects, and their physical environment. Likewise, it empowers them to solve problems using past knowledge and experiences.
- Experiential learning: This method helps students learn by exposing them to real-world experiences. It allows them to apply their knowledge to various situations, encounters, and problems.
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4 Cognitive Tasks Involved in Active Learning
When it comes to active learning and its related terms, they engage learners to take part in the following cognitive tasks:
Active learning requires more than just listening. Instead of simply conveying the information, educators challenge the learners’ thinking. It encourages them to analyze the material rather than copy it through different active learning activities.
In an active learning environment, learners are prompted to explain ideas independently or participate in discussions using different approaches. It can be in the form of structured prompts, written assignments, or informal dialogue.
By involving learners in discussions, active learning exercises also allow them to listen to how their peers perceive a specific topic. This way, students can investigate the subject from different perspectives, allowing them to become more well-rounded thinkers.
Learners have an opportunity to navigate through challenges with active learning. As they face a particular problem, students develop not only their analytical skills but their creativity as well. Complex challenges in the classroom empower them to discuss and create innovative solutions.
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4 Reasons Why Active Learning Is Important
Transitioning from lecture-based to active learning courses will improve student experience and learning outcomes. Although it’s supported by well-established evidence, some educators and institutions may remain hesitant to fully adopt active learning.
Learn why embracing active learning methods is important and how it can benefit the students in several ways.
1. Promotes Long-term Knowledge Retention
Learners don’t simply recall knowledge or memorize surface-level facts in active-based learning. They actively engage in the learning process and use multiple senses. As a result, they can understand the learning materials better and retain them over the long term.
2. Provides Assessment Opportunities
Gaining frequent and immediate feedback from educators and peers is a critical part of an active learning environment. These assessment opportunities allow them to correct misconceptions related to the course material. Likewise, they can develop a more profound comprehension of the learning content and bridge any performance gaps.
3. Boosts Students’ Motivation to Learn
Learners don’t listen passively and sit back in an active learning classroom. They establish personal connections with the material by actively involving themselves in the learning process. This, in turn, helps boost their motivation to learn.
4. Offers Multiple Avenues for Learning
Active learning strategies offer multiple avenues for processing material, including writing, verbal discussions, and problem-solving. Moreover, it gives students the chance to collaborate with peers in small groups or with the whole class. This variety of learning opportunities enables them to learn by their strengths and interests.
10 Best Active Learning Strategies With Examples
Educators’ increasing responsibilities in active learning often result in their reluctance to integrate it into their teaching strategies. Some may think that it consumes too much time and makes classroom management more difficult.
If you share that same sentiment, you’re not alone. Shifting to active learning styles may present challenges, given its demand for a profound transformation in course design. But it’s not impossible to implement.
Are you seeking active learning ideas to apply in your classroom? For a starter, consider these best examples of active learning strategies for kids.
1. Game-Based Learning Platforms
This active learning strategy utilizes the power of games to establish and support learning outcomes. By playing games, students can develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They can engage in game-based learning through:
With game-based learning, students can learn from their mistakes in a secure and simulated environment. It also allows them to understand new concepts within the framework of their social relationships.
2. Three-Step Interviews
This strategy is an excellent way to make learning more enjoyable. It incorporates cooperative learning tasks where students play the role of an interview, interviewer, and note-taker. Specifically, the three-step interview process includes the following:
- Interview: A pair of students take turns interviewing each other. Teachers can structure the discussion with specific prompts or open-ended questions. Instead of simple yes or no answers, each question must elicit meaningful responses for active listening and clarification.
- Share: Students will switch roles, meaning the interviewer will get to be the interviewee and vice versa. They will repeat the interview process and then give feedback to each other based on specific and constructive criteria.
- Summarize: Learners will have the opportunity to consolidate the information and join another group. They will summarize what they learned from their partner by reporting, comparing, or integrating.
With this activity, kids can learn to develop active listening and communication skills using various questioning strategies. It also teaches them to be patient while waiting and taking turns for their roles.
3. Reciprocal Questioning
Also referred to as reciprocal teaching, this guided teaching strategy empowers learners to take on the facilitator’s role in a specific group reading session. The teacher will demonstrate and help the students learn the skills of facilitating group discussions using these procedures:
- Predicting: Ask learners to think about the reading’s potential subject. Encourage them to make predictions on what might happen by asking questions.
- Questioning: Utilize guided questions to explore concepts in the reading material and make sense of a particular text. This will help them pay attention to important details.
- Clarifying: Prompt students to identify unclear words and phrases or ask them to explain key concepts of a specific passage. This way, you can ensure that learners continuously understand what they’re reading.
- Summarizing: Urge learners to take breaks while reading and make summative notes on the text. Moreover, let students verbalize or read their summaries aloud in pairs or groups. This activity will give you insights into students’ capacity to comprehend the material.
When executed successfully, reciprocal questioning helps learners develop their comprehension skills. They can also build their analytical and critical thinking abilities as they examine the text and convey it in a way their peers can understand.
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This is a low-risk strategy that educators can apply to any subject and in varied-size classrooms. It gives learners the chance to collaborate in understanding a concept or solving a problem after they think independently. Typically, the following are the steps involved in this active learning method:
- Think individually about a question or topic
The teacher provides the topic or poses an open-ended question. Then the students will have a minute to reflect on it individually. They can opt to jot down their responses to the given topic or prompt.
- Pair up with a partner to share their thoughts
After thinking about the given subject or question, students will work with a partner to share their responses. This allows them to identify the best answer or solution to a problem and discuss why it’s the most excellent choice.
- Share their ideas with the whole class
The last step is to reconvene the class and ask each pair to report their discussions. However, if the primary goal is to enhance learners’ skills in attentive listening, the teacher can alternatively ask each student to relay what their partner shared.
With this think-pair-share strategy, students can practice their communication and problem-solving skills. Likewise, it can help enhance their comprehension as they discuss problems and challenges with their peers.
5. Hands-On Experiments
This approach implies learning by doing, meaning learners immerse themselves in a subject to learn. Rather than simply discussing a topic, students learn concepts and skills using actual experiences.
Hands-on experiments help facilitate deeper learning by allowing exploration of all five senses, which are crucial in children’s development. Here are a few examples of hands-on experiments to help improve the learning process further:
With hands-on experiments, young learners can make neural connections that promote creative and critical thinking. This can contribute to a student’s long-term and positive learning experience.
6. Peer Teaching
This learning approach to active learning helps students reinforce their knowledge by teaching another peer. Peer teaching can happen when the learner verbalizes a concept and shares information with another student. Common examples of peer teaching activities include:
- Pairing two students as reading buddies for an assigned text
- Teaming up students in different grades and skill levels to work on a specific academic skill, meaning one is proficient while the other is less experienced
- Dividing students into smaller groups to prepare for a test or group project
By learning from their peers, students can gain valuable perspectives. The social element in peer teaching may also motivate them to participate. Learners may be more willing to ask questions and share their difficulties with peers than with teachers.
This method involves experiential learning by adopting different perspectives within a specific real-world scenario. Roleplay exercises often don’t have a structured format or formal rules, unlike simulations and games.
Students may act out spontaneous scenarios in roleplay or perform pre-arranged research roles. Regardless, this active learning style involves students in real-life or career-related scenarios. Here are typical examples of roleplay activities for children:
- Cooking in the kitchen
- Eating with other people
- Working in the hospital as a nurse or doctor
- Selling and buying items
When properly employed, roleplay exercises help learners to get a sense of real-world scenarios. This subsequently enables them to develop essential skills and behaviors, such as interpersonal interaction and accountability.
8. Jigsaw Method
Learners are interdependent in this collaborative group activity to attain a shared goal. Like each piece in a jigsaw puzzle, every student’s part is crucial to understand the learning material. The jigsaw technique generally involves the following steps:
- Provide each group with a different prompt. For instance, one group concentrates on predators of rainforest animals while the other studies their habitats.
- Each member of the group becomes an expert and develops a group response.
- One representative from every expert forms new groups to teach their prompt response from their old group.
In this cooperative learning strategy, learners are responsible for teaching the new material to their peers. This can promote a heightened sense of accountability, which, in turn, motivates students to master the new content.
9. The Devil’s Advocate Approach
It’s a decision-making technique where an individual in the group takes the opposing side of a proposed decision. Either the teacher or learners can take the role of the devil’s advocate.
It questions the group’s ideas to spot weaknesses in potential solutions, increasing the likelihood of a high-quality decision. Classroom debate is the most common activity for this approach. But instructors must ensure to align the task with the learners’ grade level.
Overall, this active learning method enables students to see diverse perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of a subject matter.
10. Flipped Classroom
The flipped classroom reverses the traditional learning approach. With this active learning technique, students are exposed to the content outside of the classroom to foster higher-order thinking using the following:
- Instructional videos
- Individual or team-based activities
In a flipped classroom, learners have more control and flexible timelines over their learning process. This helps ensure the students have a more profound learning experience.
Related Reading: Tips for Successfully Flipping Your Classroom
3 Roles of A Teacher In The Active Learning Classroom
With active learning, teachers have more opportunities to interact with children. But they must comprehensively understand their essential role in active learning to employ effective strategies.
Instructors are regarded as experts in the traditional classroom and are expected to impart knowledge to learners. This passive approach lacks engagement and often results in students’ laid-back attitude in learning. That role, however, changes in the active learning classroom.
Before incorporating active teaching strategies in the classroom, educators must be well-informed about these roles:
1. Facilitates Activities for the Application of Acquired Knowledge
The teacher transitions into the role of a facilitator in an active classroom. Instead of merely giving information, the educator organizes activities to enable students to practice their acquired knowledge.
2. Motivates Students to Engage in Learning Activities
In this role, the teacher motivates learners to solve problems or accomplish tasks. Providing activities that ignite the learner’s interest and curiosity may help them tap into their prior knowledge and get them more involved in the process.
3. Guides Students to Make and Reflect on Their Process
Since students have more control over their learning process, educators must act as guides, providing them with alternatives for exploration. They must also give them opportunities to reflect on their learning process and encourage them to improve.
With these active learning strategies for kids, teachers can keep their students engaged and interested. However, it’s essential to note that active learning techniques require careful implementation to be effective.
Assessing what the learners need is a critical step in ensuring the effectiveness of an active learning strategy. Educators can create a thriving, active learning environment by understanding students’ diverse needs.
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