What is Interactive Learning?
The days of sitting through lectures and taking notes are gone in today’s high tech, fast paced world. The age of video games, social media, ipads, iphones, and more have completely changed how our students want to learn and how quickly they need feedback and gratification in learning. Interactive learning is an approach to teaching students that includes elements of participation and engagement. Students are encouraged to partake in hands-on activities, collaborate together in groups, and use components of technology to complete classwork. Basically, instruction through interactive learning seeks to capture student attention quickly and efficiently to keep them engaged in learning.
What are the Benefits of Interactive Learning?
When you think about the benefits of interactive learning, increased student engagement is probably the first one that comes to mind; however, interactive learning provides other useful benefits to students aside from its greatest benefit of upping student participation.
In interactive learning, students work with their peers frequently. Because of this, cooperation skills are quickly developed. Students grow the ability to listen to the ideas of others, build upon the ideas of others, and blend those ideas to create innovative solutions.
Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills
Thinking and problem-solving truly go hand in hand. Interactive learning activities almost always encourage exploration by thinking “outside the box.” Students have to think about and explore different ideas in order to find valid solutions. Because many interactive learning activities are centered around real world problems and challenges, students must think critically to find valid answers to those problems; thus, students develop sharper problem-solving skills. These skills carry on into adulthood and strengthen their capabilities in their chosen careers in the future.
How Do Interactive Lessons Increase Engagement?
Interactive lessons increase student engagement by providing opportunities for active learning. Active learning means students are literally learning until they “run out of fuel!” When interactive lessons are employed, students are completing activities in a fast paced environment while soaking up necessary knowledge, learning and growing with their peers, and genuinely enjoying what is taking place in the classroom.
Using Interactive Lessons in Your Classroom
Interactive lessons are easy to implement, but teachers must be willing to give up some of the control as most activities are student led. Below is a list of ways to incorporate interactive learning into the lessons in your classroom.
Create Student-Centered Activities
This one is probably obvious, but in order for interactive learning to work, activities must be centered around students. As mentioned before, teacher lectures and note taking alone are no longer the norm and do not adequately capture student attention. Teachers can create student centered activities by including activities that allow for student interests. For instance, teachers could ask students to show their learning in a method of their choice (i.e. write a summary, create a digital presentation, draw a picture, etc). Through providing students with choice according to their personal preferences, they are more likely to perform at their best.
Include Real World Challenges
Interactive learning requires students to participate more actively in the classroom through hands-on activities and projects. A perfect example of this type of activity would be to implement project-based learning. Project-based learning provides students with hands-on, relevant learning. Project based learning requires students to research a particular question or topic (generally related to the real world) in order to learn more, explore different outcomes, and/or create solutions. Examples may include asking students to plan and construct a garden, create a new app that provides a useful service, and so on. The great thing about project based learning is that it can easily be used in all grade levels.
Make Things Fun With Games
Students of all ages love games. Teachers can make learning more interactive in the classroom by incorporating game-like activities into lessons.
- Task Cards: Regardless of the subject or grade level, task cards make learning more fun and engaging. Place task cards throughout the classroom with various questions or tasks on them. Challenge students to complete a certain number of cards during a particular amount of time. Teachers may even up the ante by providing a prize to the student who completes the most cards correctly.
- Word Hunt: Introduce or review vocabulary by hiding word cards around the room. Using a clipboard with pencil and paper, students must locate the card, write down the word, and find its meaning. This activity is more often used in the elementary grades; however it would make a fun review game for older students as well.
- Four Corners: This game works best when students are classifying information. Place one label on each corner of the room. For example: If students have been learning about reptiles, mammals, birds, and amphibians, make a label for each name. Then, call out a specific animal name (i.e. rattlesnake, pigeon, etc.) and ask students to walk to the corner that shows its classification. This game is easily adapted for classrooms of all shapes and sizes so if you do not have four corners, that is okay! This game is also especially fun and useful for students of all ages and different subjects.
Most teachers already know how much students love technology. Most of them eat, sleep, and breathe it! When teachers incorporate technology into their lessons, students are automatically ready to jump in and get started. Here are a few ways to use technology in the classroom:
- Videos: Teachers can capture student attention from the very beginning of a lesson by using a quick video to introduce the lesson’s topic. Students may also be challenged with creating a short video to show what they have learned or reinforce learning.
- Visual Presentations: Most students are visual learners. Teachers who use visual aids when presenting content are more likely to see an increase in student engagement. Another way that students can show what they know is by asking them to create digital presentations using Google Slides, PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.
- Games: The internet is filled with tons of educational games. Use them to your advantage by allowing students to play games online to reinforce and/or practice what they have learned.
Incorporate the Arts
A great method of providing students with hands-on activities is to include the arts! To increase student engagement teachers may ask students to draw pictures, write poems, create songs, or act out ideas from the content being studied. All of these arts activities and more can aid student learning and make it more meaningful to them.