Ten ideas for interactive teaching

Total Physical Response (TPR): Research shows that when physical activity is included in classroom settings, students retain more information. For a quick sitting break, have students stand up and move to one side of the room to indicate their responses to a question. Instead of using this as a right-or-wrong answer activity, this exercise seems best suited for opinion-based responses. Students can see the differing perspectives of their classmates, which then can lead to debate and discussion.

One Word: If it seems a lecture is the only way to discuss a topic, preface it by telling students that at the end of the day’s lesson, they must write down a single word they believe best represents the lesson. Then, they can expand on why they chose that word with a separate paragraph. This will force active listening during the class period, as students will need to be able to condense an entire lesson into the essence of its idea.

Another idea is to ask students to write a slogan-like bumper sticker to illustrate a particular concept from the lecture—forcing them to sum up the entire class period in one sentence.

Opposite Arguments: Pair students up who disagree about an answer to an opinion question. Have them debate, representing the side they originally believed to be wrong. Having students examine an opinion contrary to their own will force them to think critically about arguments on both sides and will lead to a broader understanding of the topic under discussion.

Historically Correct: After watching a film on a topic discussed in class, have students answer what the movie portrayed accurately and which points it dramatized or glossed over. While this technique has a more obvious application for historical movies such as JFK, Schindler’s List, or Elizabeth, it also can be used to examine biases in documentary films or other dramatizations.

Another option is to divide students into groups and have them come up with examples on their own of movies that made use of an idea or event covered in class—and then try to find at least one example of how the film got it right and one of how the film got it wrong.

Test Tournament: Divide the class into at least two groups and announce a competition for most points on a practice test. Let students study a topic together and then give your quiz, tallying points. After each round, let students study the next topic together before quizzing again. The points should be carried over from round to round. “The student impulse for competition will focus their engagement onto the material itself,” the paper states.

YouTube Video Quizzes: Using the annotations feature on YouTube (which allows for text boxes), create a multiple-choice quiz with different video responses based on how the student answers. Students answer by clicking on a hyperlinked option in the annotation box, and the link takes them to a video response. This will require filming a response for incorrect answers (“This answer is wrong because…”) as well as correct answers. Teachers could use this as a “question of the day” exercise or put together longer pieces for a test format.

Electronic Role Playing: Students create their own blogs and write diary-style entries while role-playing as someone central to the content being discussed.

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