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Hey ya’ll, welcome to another HHT post my dear teacher frien’. If we were to compare the world when we were kids to the world of today, things have significantly changed. Almost everyone has a phone now, forget smart vehicles there are even smart refrigerators now. Just about everything in our life has been modified in one way or the other from just two decades ago. If the world has changed so much today why not the classroom, why not the way we teach.
WHAT IS INTERACTIVE LEARNING AND WHY YOU NEED IT IN YOUR CLASS
Interactive learning is a method of providing students ample chance to partake in the lectures. What this means is to design and conduct your classes in a manner that prioritizes a practical and hands on approach for your students. The principle behind this is simple, it states that students can not retain or comprehend the full depth of any study material until its practical application is not only conveyed but experienced by them. This lies in stark contrast to the passive mode of learning which we all may have grown up with as the norm. But any HHT teacher knows better. We are expected to be nimble, observant, open-minded and our first and last priority will always be our students.
There are plenty of reasons you want to take the interactive teaching approach:
- It helps in encouraging student participation
- It allows you to foster a hyper-stimulating learning environment
- It improves critical thinking in students
- It allows students to exert their logical and creative reasoning abilities
- It promotes collaboration among students
EASY WAYS TO IMPLEMENT INTERACTIVE LEARNING
There are a few base rules to making your classroom a more interactive teaching environment. While we may have mentioned them throughout our blog posts in one way or the other, let’s quickly consolidate them. In an interactive learning environment, your primary mode of teaching can not be passive ergo your students can not simply be the listeners for most of your class. Instead, students should be participants who are both engaging you and other students through planned practical examples and activities. You should also start to move away from the modality of asking polar questions to open-minded questions. The world is vast and open to interpretability, the understanding of students should not be dictated according to a book or lecture rather their ability to ponder and draw conclusions should be tested and developed. Finally, you need to develop a workgroup environment. This may involve reorganizing the way your students sit in the class or how they interact with each other but ultimately the goal is that they are accessible to one another when working on problems.
Just by following these rules of thumb, you can observe a fundamental change in the way that students learn from your class. Assuming that you are following these rules, let’s take a look at some activities that you can use to make your learning environments even more interactive:
Think, Pair and Share
Do this activity in pairs or groups. Pose an open problem based on what you are trying to teach. Afterwards, distribute your students in pairs or groups and ask them to come up with their own solutions. If possible, you may want to give them access to different resources, maybe a picture book on the topic you are discussing or the internet if applicable.
After the allotted time has passed, each group or pair will share the conclusions they made with others. You may add any variation you want to this technique, but the concept is to give students the time and freedom to draw their own conclusions from given data.
Brainstorming is a group activity where all participants pitch in with ideas. We want to make this an interactive brainstorming session, so you don’t want individual students to sit down and write on pen and paper at their own discretion. Instead, you may want to break the class down into teams that argue opposing views or have them create idea maps collectively. The variations are endless and subject to your imagination.
This is a case study problem that tries to present a practical real-world problem in a simplified manner. Of course, the goal is not to solve a full-fledged case study but to help students relate in-class learning to life beyond it. The complexity of the problem will be based on the grade you are teaching but as an example for elementary school students, you may give them everyday dilemmas such as they found a lost object, how would they deal with it.
Question and Answer Sessions
At the heart of all learning unfortunately lies the inevitable cycle of having to ask questions and having to seek their answers. However, in the interactive learning environment, you don’t care for the right answers as much as you care for how you answered a question. As a review, you may ask students to write down their perceived answers to open-ended questions. You may choose to do this anonymously by shuffling the cards after you receive them and reading out as many answers as time allows and giving your own reflection on them. This will allow you to turn even the most mundane of questions into a pondering thought for your students.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Creating an interactive learning environment definitely puts a lot more burden on the teacher than it does on the students. Rather it serves to liberate the students from their perceived role of listeners and puts teachers in more of a managerial position. Regardless, the extra effort always comes with a much sweeter reward. Your interactive teaching efforts will most definitely give your students a fruitful education.