Ten ideas for interactive teaching

Studies show students absorb more information when not in a straight-lecture lesson

While lecturing tends to be the easiest form of instruction, studies show that students absorb the least amount of information that way.

Interactive teaching methods are an effective way to connect with a generation of students used to consistent stimulation—and education professor Kevin Yee has some advice for how teachers can make their lessons more interactive.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment,” said Yee, a professor at the University of Central Florida and assistant director of the university’s Karen L. Smith Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.

Yee is the author of “Interactive Techniques,” a collection of more than 100 teaching strategies—compiled from different sources—that aim to energize students and engage them in lessons. “Some of the techniques look and feel like they might have a different tone to them than your usual mannerisms in class, but it can pay dividends to almost adopt a new teaching persona when trying some of these out,” he said.

He cautioned teachers not to fear new methods because of possible failure: “I think it’s also OK if something is attempted and it doesn’t work. It’s OK to just be up front with the students and say, ‘Well no, this experiment didn’t work—let’s move on.'”

Here are 10 examples of the techniques that Yee has listed. Some involve technology, while others are very low-tech.

“These techniques are often perceived as ‘fun,’ yet they are frequently more effective than lectures at enabling student learning,” Yee’s paper states. “Not all techniques listed here will have universal appeal, with factors such as your teaching style and personality influencing which choices may be right for you.”

Follow the Leader: Appoint one student as tweeting “chairperson,” and have that student be responsible for posting the most important concepts discussed in the day’s class on Twitter. Have other students follow the Twitter feed and “retweet” any discussions or disagreements.

Using social networks can be a great way for students to feel connected to their classroom environments; Twitter is one social networking tool that is underused in terms of its learning possibilities, and having a leader responsible for broadcasting the main ideas in a classroom discussion will help increase active listening. Teachers can switch the Twitter leader each week or each day, depending on class size.

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