Each student is different, and when it comes to learning styles, the ones that prove the most effective depend on who is being taught. One of the ways in which teachers can maximize the effectiveness of their time in the classroom is to rotate the types of instruction that they’re using, making sure that there is a mix of strategies that might work well for different students.
By combining a few different types of activities, teachers make the classroom a dynamic place to learn and keep their students engaged with the material.
Students often thrive when given the opportunity to create something on their own. Research shows the more active a brain is in different areas, the greater chance for retention. Author Judy Dodge explains in a Scholastic article, “If you’re only listening, you’re only activating one part of the brain. But if you’re drawing and explaining to a peer, then you’re making connections in the brain.”
Hands-on activities are traditionally used in arts and science courses, but virtually any subject matter can have hands-on learning. For example, an English class could use the same approach by having students assemble portfolios of their writing in booklets for presentation or having students create dioramas depicting scenes in books they’ve read. These types of projects can be more meaningful and engaging to students than traditional exams, and encourage more creative, independent thinking.
With collaborative projects, students get the chance to work with one another toward a common goal. These exercises are valuable in their capability to teach students about the values of cooperation and working with others who might be different from themselves. Pairing students with different skill sets can be a great way that while not everyone shares the same talents, everyone can contribute to the project meaningfully in their own way.
Collaboration encourages students to engage in productive dialogue and it can provide an opportunity to foster debate. Deciding between different approaches to satisfy project requirements can help develop students’ executive decision-making capabilities and their ability to listen to others’ opinions and suggestions.
Well-structured collaborative projects, according a National Survey on Student Engagement, help students learn the following:
Giving students the chance to apply the classroom lessons to a practical application can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By showing them the direct benefits of their new knowledge, the teacher is helping to cement the notion that students’ studies are tangibly productive and worthy of their time and effort. Activities like field trips in the local area are a great example of how experiential learning can be incorporated in your lesson plans for the year.
Additionally, having participative activities within the classroom and direct instruction as the homework (otherwise known as the flipped classroom) is an excellent way to engage students with the material.
While most of us think of direct instruction when we think of the traditional classroom structure, its effectiveness has not diminished over time. Done properly, direct instruction helps students know the why behind the activities they’re doing.
When introducing a new lesson, it’s important to emphasize the broader concepts as a whole to ensure comprehension, rather than individual facts, as these can distract from the overall message. Direct instruction also helps to establish order in the classroom and minimize distractions and disruptions.
While these four methods of instruction are by no means the only ways to teach a class, engaging your students with a rotation of these strategies can help keep the classroom a lively and dynamic environment for learning.