On my last post, MissCalcul8 asked me to expand on the idea of kids talking and working with their groups during class. I had actually already promised another teacher earlier in the same day that I would post some of the ideas I had found on Active Learning. So ladies, this one's for you :)
During the summer, I LOVE to read. There have been summers that I burned through novels at a rate of 1 per day. This year, however, it's all been about professional literature, which takes a bit more time to muddle through :) One of the books I picked up earlier in the summer was 'Why Didn't I Learn This in College'. I'm still working through it, but I really enjoyed the chapter on Active Learning strategies, which got me to researching some other strategies, etc.
Here's some of the favorites that I've found and my ideas of how I plan to implement them in my classroom.
First off, let me say I <3 grouping my students randomly. I am always so impressed with the conversations that happen, how the kids work together to figure out a problem, etc. Most of the time, I just use a regular deck of cards, I stand in the hall and the kids draw a card, then sit at the correct cluster of desks in my room. However, I found this custom set of cards and I think it is SO cool :) Definitely going to make a set of these :)
Discussion with a Partner
According to the book linked above, 75% of our learners are extroverted thinkers and learning by talking. While this surprised me at first, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. While I personally am not an auditory learner, I find myself learning TONS through discussions via twitter and brainstorming with my "real-life" colleagues. When engaged in discussion, you are having to process, synthesize, respond, question, etc. In the classroom, it would be easy to have students paired up, project a problem or question, have the students discuss with their partner, work through the problem together, and share with the class their consensus. During this discussion period, the teacher could circulate the room, listening in, looking at papers, etc.
A consensogram is a graph of what students know/feel about a topic. This is a similar idea to @CarissaJuneK's barometer on the MSWiki Page. I like this idea especially for a quick view about a topic, such as "I can solve a quadratic equation by factoring" and getting a quick snapshot of student feelings with them putting a mark in the appropriate column (frowny face, straight face, smiley face or whatever). This could be done quickly with a piece of paper and some stickers from the dollar store or even using clickers for a bit more anonymity.
I had seen this listed before as a "Gallery Walk", but I can see Graffiti being used in lots of ways. I love using post-it chart paper in my classroom and here's a strategy that integrates it! :) Basically, separate your students into groups and each group gets their own colored marker and a piece of chart paper with a problem (I'm envisioning word problem, proofs, etc). The group works on their problem, and after a set amount of time, ring a bell for teh groups to rotate to the next station. The group then reads the new problem and the work that has already been done, makes corrections and continues working the problem until the bell rings again and the groups again rotate.
Self Assessment Exit Ticket
While reading Eric Townsley's blog, I ran across this post, which alluded to a self-assessment form that he has his students fill out at the end of a lesson. I really like this idea for an exit ticket, where the kids let me know how they felt (smiley faces again) and points of confusion. This allows me to see where they are in terms of their learning, but I've done journals of this sort before and quickly got bogged down in responding to them. I'm still working on how to implement this one without getting bogged down.
The 3-2-1 strategy is usually used as a reading strategy. I am thinking of it more as an informal check of learning prior to a chapter test. Instead of the traditional 3-2-1 questions, I am thinking of "3 concepts I am solid on, 2 concepts that I feel shaky about, and 1 concept that I feel totally clueless about". I'm not sure how well it will adapt, but I like the idea :)
Overall, I believe that engaged students are better than passive students. With the "sage on the stage" model of teaching, the teacher is really the only one that is fully engaged in the classroom. As teachers, we need to make an effort to engage all students in our lessons. I hope you find these strategies as interesting as I did while researching. And feel free to add on your own favorite 'Active Learning' strategies in the comments!