Mark Twain once said, “College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.”
Sadly, this is often true. In many different school settings, teachers are regularly faced with the task of turning the dreaded lecture or lesson into stimulating, thought-provoking material. Students hear the lesson, but they’re not actively listening to it.
Enter the interactive classroom.
Interactive classrooms aren’t limited to technology-based teaching spaces. Interactivity is a two-way flow of information that can benefit both teachers and students. When teachers interchange information with students and ask for participation, the result is deeper, mindful learning. Here are some ways that you can structure an interactive classroom:
1. Liven up the lecture
The traditional classroom lecture is an age-old teaching technique used to present information to large groups of people. Despite the vast number of students it accommodates, very little interaction exists between the teacher and the students, resulting in passive listening. So initiate communication! Plan a daily activity to pair with your lecture. Seek active involvement from your students during your lesson. Brainstorm with your students and value their opinions. Ask for feedback as you present information. Stimulate students’ critical thinking skills by providing fun, question-answer techniques throughout your lesson. The key is to increase engagement, further understanding, and boost long-term retention of material.
2. Tap their inner-Einstein
Interactive classrooms promote student immersion. Consider a think-pair-share activity to review homework from the night before. Offer opinion polls on the topic of the day. Provide hand-held response cards for questions. Use role-playing and simulation techniques to explain difficult concepts. Plan a 20 second think break so students can problem-solve with each other. Have students self-assess at the end of each lecture, or employ a one-minute “exit ticket” activity on index cards to collect and determine problem areas. Interactive pedagogies such as cooperative learning, experiments, case studies, and hands-on research also support engagement in the classroom. The bonus? You can monitor how well they’re understanding the material and adjust your teaching accordingly.
3. Nurture their space
Activities are only effective if students participate. They’ll feel comfortable if their learning environment is emotionally and physically satisfying. Be welcoming, open-minded, and approachable. Be sensitive to students’ needs. Encourage collaboration and conversation. Be clear with goals and instructions. Consider space, flexibility, and design to support classroom activities. Make an effort to understand and ask questions about students’ lives. Show an interest in their cultures, hobbies, and interests. Gain their attention by giving yours.
The 21st century learner requires diverse instructional strategies that foster deeper, engaged learning. Empower your students with an interactive teaching space and prepare them for success both in and out of the classroom.
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