It’s often said that today’s kids have shorter attention spans than ever before. Whether this is true, or simply a wistful case of the “good old days”, sharing strategies for keeping students engaged and on task in the classroom can only be of benefit to student and teacher alike. Enter active learning strategies.
We chatted to three teachers who shared their experiences of the active learning strategies they use to get the best out of their students.
1. Be flexible with your space
Different spaces can evoke vastly different reactions and feelings, depending on the environment around us. Simply changing students’ perceptions of the classroom can have a huge impact.
By creating a new environment, we’re able to change students’ thinking and behaviour in that space. Some students say this actually gives them the confidence to apply for a part-time job.”
“When teaching employability skills, we turn school spaces into interview rooms where students participate in mock job interviews one by one,” says Beverley Paskin, an Art and Careers Teacher. “Students wear corporate attire and get a chance to practice at school before they do it in the real world. By creating a new environment, we’re able to change students’ thinking and behaviour in that space. Some students say this actually gives them the confidence to apply for a part-time job.”
2. Incorporate tech
There are so many digital resources available which offer new ways to engage students. For senior students, incorporating technology into project-based assignments can really drive engagement.
“We give students a brief from which they undertake self-directed, personalised learning projects,” says Nazemin Meharg, a multidisciplinary High School Teacher. “They use a range of online, hands-on and real-life resources to complete the project. Students are then able to choose the subject matter, research and delivery mode depending on what interests them most.”
3. Use group work
Meharg finds using self-organised learning environments (SOLE) to be particularly useful. In the case of group work, the key to success might be in matching team members and assigning roles.
“We have students working in teams, and assign different duties to each student. Everyone has a role, so no one sits out, and everyone exchanges the information they’ve found. This way, students get lots of information and different viewpoints, and they’re always really keen to volunteer what they’ve learned,” says Meharg. “Before I used to throw a question out there and nobody would put up their hand because they were worried they’d look a fool in front of their peers. Now they all feel like they own it.”