I started active learning with Think-Pair-Share. This technique involves asking a question, giving students a minute or two to think about it and then a few minutes (usually about three) to discuss it with an assigned partner. The only new preparation I had to do was to create the questions. As I noted in the first post in this blog, it worked much better than I had hoped.
There are many very quick techniques that you can implement without changing your course entirely and without hours of preparation. They all do require some advance thought – the only active learning activities that did not go well for me were ones where I didn’t plan much in advance. Here is a great resource from Cornell that explains the value of adding some active learning to your classroom.
Here are some quick techniques that you could try (in addition to Think-Pair Share):
Entrance and Exit Tickets: These are very short written questions given in class that help the student focus on what they have or haven’t learned.
One Minute Write: These are very quick written assignments that serve the same function as entrance and exit tickets, but take a slightly longer form.
ConcepTests: These are quick multiple choice questions that you ask during lecture. You can use a high tech solution (clickers or a smartphone app) or 3×5 cards on which students write their answer. These are a great way to check in on understanding of clearly defined, but often tricky concepts. They are best when students discuss their answers with an assigned partner.
I will be working on making my Introduction of Sociology Course ready to be taught in an active learning classroom over the summer. This will involve techniques associated with the flipped or inverted classroom. I will be posting about that process over the summer. If you are interested, please use the subscribe link on the right since I won’t be sending out new post announcements again until the fall. I hope everyone enjoys the summer! Feel free to post comments here or email me with any questions you have.