high school teachers, think that interactive lessons are akin to playing games
and are silly. Granted, I’ve seen some
that are. To me, an interactive lesson can be anything from using task
cards with individual students or in a group setting to making human
MLA citations! If you wanted to bring in a little silly with the serious, play a funny song or have students race the clock! It really depends on
your style and, of course, what your goals are for the class.
like to chunk my classes into segments – usually about 15-20 minutes each. This is usually an excellent structure for my daily grammar bell ringer routine, lesson intro, interactive/group work, and individual
task. Sometimes my “real-world” connection
is simply a relatable video as a set activity or a funny grammar mistake from my growing collection of pictures.
Other times, my real-world connections are more project-oriented, take a
while longer, and give students time to work in groups, process through
problem-solving strategies, and employ critical thinking skills. If you wanted to experiment with longer projects, start small. One really
successful project I’ve done is my Earth Day Info Text and Real-World Project,
which is perfect for April. In this Earth Day
themed lesson, students compare and contrast the presentation of a similar theme
or topic across genres (different types of writing) to explain how each genre
shapes the author’s presentation of the theme. Next, they use their
problem-solving skills to raise awareness of the need to be good stewards of
the earth. Students love getting “their hands dirty” with this
real-world project and presentation, and you will love that they are critically
thinking about the world around them while demonstrating their understanding of
key CCSS. Perhaps, you will give
it a try!
to be hands-on or project-oriented. In
order for a lesson to be interactive, it doesn’t have to be a full-blown
project or even something where students move around. An effective and purposeful whole-group discussion
or guided small-group discussion can take the attention off the teacher and
make it more student-centered and interactive. I also think when a student is 100% engaged in
his/her learning, that’s pretty interactive, too. I like to give case studies and short research
projects where students are responsible for extracting the information about
the assigned topic on their own, and then they give a presentation. If you wanted to be more adventurous and try something interactive while keeping students focused, my students enjoy readers’ theater or role playing. I love keeping a box of costume props
handy when we are reading some favorites like The Crucible, Macbeth, Beowulf, or Trifles. It doesn’t take but a few minutes, and it’s
great for those out-going students.
to be labor-intensive for the teacher. The idea behind an interactive or real-world
lesson is that students are going to be doing most of the work and hopefully, they will be more engaged – which takes the pressure off of the teacher. One quick way I review
before a test involves a small ball that we toss around the room. In fact, I
call it Ball Toss Review – creative, right? Each student
must answer a question about the topic, and then he/she gets to toss the ball to
whomever he/she chooses. I don’t have to
prepare anything, but the students are on their toes thinking and
responding the entire time. Technology is another
excellent way to get students more involved, and it may or may not involve a little prep work.
Especially when technology
is involved, most times students will dive right in. I love my newest Google-Drive eWorksheets for
poetry, which are a super-cool tool for bridging the gap between today’s teens and poetry!
to cost you anything. Sometimes it may seem daunting to buy game pieces, cut and laminate game cards, or prepare online worksheets or discussion boards for students. If your time and resources are limited (of course they are), there are plenty interactive ideas that are completely free. If you are in the middle of a writing unit, have students complete a 4-square peer review. Students fold a piece of notebook paper into four squares and review each other’s paper for the thesis statement, grammar/spelling, organization, and language. With April being poetry month, another fun and free hands-on idea is to have students write Characterization Poems for the piece of literature you are currently studying. Just beg and borrow to get a few magazines, and you’ll be set. If you have a bit more time, a smart device, and time to print and cut a glass set of Plickers, you will love the results. Even Plickers are mostly free, and would be excellent way to jazz up your traditional exit tickets.
the “activity-itis” syndrome. I’ve been guilty of it myself. See more of my thoughts about that here.
The most important thing to keep in mind for a successful lesson is that it
just needs to be on purpose. More on that topic in another post in this series.