Active Laering

25 ways for Teaching Without Talking:
Presenting Students with New Material
in Theory Lessons
Draft 1.0 Feb 2002

Geoff Petty Sutton Coldfield College

A. Introduction
B. Why use Active Learning Strategies
C. Using the List of Teaching Strategies
D. List of Active Learning Strategies for presenting students with new material
D (i) Methods requiring very little preparation or resources
D (ii) Methods requiring resources such as handouts or sets of cards.
D (iii) Activities that require a bit more preparation; simplest first
E. Effective Management of Active Learning Strategies to maximise participation.

A. Introduction

Teaching falls into three phases, each requiring appropriate methods. (See PAR paper)
1. Present: Methods to present new material to students, or to encourage them to think it out for themselves. This might involve facts, theories, concepts, stories or any other content.
2. Apply: Methods requiring students to apply the new material just presented to them. This is the only way to ensure that students conceptualise the new material so that they can understand it, recall it, and use it appropriately in the future.
3. Review: Methods to encourage students to recall former learning so as to clarify and focus on key points, ensure understanding, and to practice and check recall.

This paper concentrates on active methods to present material to students. Other papers deal with methods for the apply and review phases.

Commonly used ???present??™ methods such as teacher talk can bore students if they go on for too long, so active ???present??™ strategies are particularly useful. Ideally an active presenting strategy, could include an ???apply??™ activity and be followed by a brief active reviewing strategy. Then all the learners needs are met in an active way.

B. Why use Active ???presenting??™ Strategies

Research shows that it works:
* All research shows that we learn by Doing. That is, by applying what we have learned, in order to answer questions for example. This makes learners process the information and make their own sense of it. This is called ???constructivism??™.

Research emphatically shows that active methods:
* create deeper learning and higher achievement (2)
* create better recall by students
* develop high order reasoning skills in students
* are more enjoyed by students

* Active learning makes students form their own meaning of the material and come to their own understanding of it. This is what we call learning

It checks learning:
* You get feedback on whether students understand the material and can correct misunderstandings.
* Students develop their reasoning skills, as well as the factual knowledge of the subject and practise the skills they will be assessed by.

It makes your life easier:
* It fosters active, constructive student participation
* Your lessons have more impact, and are more interesting
* It may give you a break, and a chance to mark the register!

C. Using the list of teaching strategies
A list of teaching strategies follows with references for further reading. You can use this list in three main ways:

You can browse: Use the following list of teaching strategies to find ones that will suit you and your students. Choose whichever strategy bests helps you to achieve your goals (fitness for purpose)

You can create a Teaching Strategy Manual in your team: A subject, unit, or course team can use the list (available in an editable electronic form) as part of a strategy to:
1. Find methods which work in your subject
2. Choose particular strategies for particular topics or lessons etc
3. Pool your team??™s best teaching strategies to add to the list
4. For given lessons, topics, sections of the syllabus or units etc, develop a Teaching Strategy Manual to go with the Scheme of Work. Share out the work to develop the strategies and their resources in detail. Ideally the Manual has a (suggested or required) activity for every lesson or at least every topic on the Scheme of Work.
5. Publish your Manual in electronic and/or document form.

Assisting in the development of an ???Active Scheme of Work??™ or ???Topic Plan??™ which gives a student activity for every topic or substantial sub-topic so that students process the information given them.

You can create an Active Scheme of Work in your team: You can create a Scheme of Work or Topic Plan which gives suitable activities for each stage in teaching a topic. This can be created by your team, so that your best methods are available to the whole team.

D. List of Active Learning Strategies
for presenting students with new material
Methods requiring the least preparation are given at the beginning of each section of the list:
D (i) Methods requiring very little preparation or resources
D (ii) Methods requiring resources such as handouts or sets of cards.
D (iii) Activities that require a bit more preparation; simplest first

D (i) Methods requiring very little preparation and no resources

1. Teaching by asking
Rather than ???teaching by telling??™, start the topic by asking students a question which leads to what you want to teach. For example:
???What methods are used to market food products Think of as many as you can.???
???Why do you think managers value staff training???
???Who would have supported Cromwell, who would not, and why???
???Here is a maths problem you can??™t solve with the methods we have seen so far – how would you solve it???

Students work in pairs or small groups (buzz groups) to answer a question or series of questions using common sense, experience, and prior learning. Students can all have the same questions, or they can be given different questions on the same topic. This group discussion can last for literally a minute or less, or for 20 minutes or longer.

Ensure each group has a scribe, and check their attention to task, and the quality of their work, by checking what the scribes have written down. Ask them if they need more time, and if they have finished, ask each pair or group for one idea they have had, ensuring that each group offers something. Write the strong ideas on the board saying a little in support of each idea if you wish. Allow the class to discuss any points of disagreement until they have agreed a common answer. (See section E for more detail on this.)

When the class has its common answer, ???top up??™ the answer with any additional points the class has missed, and correct any misunderstandings. If students get half of the answer, it saves half of the teacher talk, and generates interest and thinking skills.

See Effective Management of Active Learning Strategies for more detail on how to manage this activity, and the activities which follow.
(See also ???interrogating the text??? below, where students are given a handout or other material to help them answer the ???Teaching by Asking??? question you give them.)
Ask the question
Students provide part of the answer
Teacher provides the rest of the answer

(Students provide part of the answer)

2. Snowball
This is like ???teaching by asking??™ above. Instead of starting by ???teaching by telling??™, you ask a question that leads to what you want students to learn. Then:
(1) each individual writes down their thoughts without reference to others,
(2) students then share what they have written in pairs or threes
(3) Optionally the pairs or threes combine to create larger groups which again compares their answers, and then agrees a group answer.
(4) The teacher asks each big group in turn for one idea they have had, and writes the useful ideas on the board, perhaps saying a little in support of each idea.