Active Learning

Read, Set, … Learn!  It’s that time of year.  That fall feeling is in the air.  For some of us that means football; for all of us that means school!  Our minds are ready for more – to learn more – to do more.

Recently, I attended a Football for Moms session with our high school football team.  Coaches decided that we needed to learn the plays.  We listened to Coach Bahlmann draw up plays on the board, and we decoded numbers and names for players and plays.  Once we had an introduction, then we needed to give it a try and put the play into action.  I would say that we did fairly well against our high school sons as opponents. 😉  We were able to learn about the play and try it out – to engage in our learning and actively participate.

BLOG 8.29.18 Football learning
Photo credit: Coach Tony Ortmann

Part of learning more IS doing more. The lecture-style-only classroom is a thing of the past.  There is so much more to teaching and learning than lecturing.  Now, don’t get all upset if you are a lecturer; we mean no disrespect here.  It takes all of us to make the world-go-around.  We simply mean there is more to it than the historically dominate “sit and get” learning in life.  I tell teacher candidates that “you will get out of it what you put into it.” I can tell them how valuable something is and why, but until they assimilate it, digest it, believe it, work with it, and do something with it (in whatever order or preference), then it is just information. They need to actively engage in the task at hand, and make it worth their time to comprehend it and make their learning their own.

I recently had an opportunity to participate in an active learning classroom workshop on campus at Southwest Minnesota State University.  It was more than listening to how it works, it was doing more, and making it work.  We know that one of the highest levels of learning is teaching and creating.  That is just what we did under the fine guidance of Kate Borowske, Instructional Design Librarian at SMSU.

There were lots of take aways to try out in our own teaching and get our students engaged in their own active learning.  Some highlights came from Professor Robin Wright from the University of Minnesota; she shared resources to get us on the road to active teaching and learning.  Key ideas and resources to share with some of my own twist:

Mentor – develop relationships.  Professors may know the content/discipline more in depth, but students have better questions.

Teach so hard.  We need to think about the balance between teaching and learning. We are all teaching and learning alongside each other.

“Students have an amazing capacity to learn…amazing capacity for creativity.  They will give you hope for the future.”

“Thrill of seeing through new eyes…”  Allowing ourselves to see something thru another’s perspective, we allow ourselves a chance to change, a chance to get better, a chance to understand.

TED Talk by Ramsay Musallem – 3 rules to spark learning

Teaching effectively in active learning spaces:

Team teach. Model/learn scholarly discourse. It will make learning transformative.

Enlist help.  Undergraduate learning assistants or interns or volunteers can help support active learning. Engage others are we aim to integrate active learning into everyday teaching.

Use time-saving strategies (grading rubrics, mail merge for student communications, and more) to save on teacher sanity.

Encourage metacognition.  Learners need to think about what they are learning and how they are learning and what it all means.

Create a community of learners.  We are not in this alone.  Put your minds together and collaborate on how this can become how we learn.

What we process, we learn. Sure, we can memorize something. But there is so much more that we can do with information and knowledge.

Connect emotion to learning.  When a reader connects to text, he or she comprehends the text more easily.  When we connect to what we are learning, we retain it, which means we have a better chance of using the information in the future and integrating it into our lives.

Steps on How to Teach in an Active Learning Classroom – Steelcase Education

Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future – Joe Ruhl

Teach Like a Champion: Getting everyone’s attention in class – Doug Lemov

ablconnect – Harvard University

Without further ado, it’s time to learn more – do more. Get your active learn on.

A special thanks to all who helped offer and make the Active Learning Classroom a success, especially:
Kate Borowske
Dan Baun
Shawn Hedman
Ben Nwachukwu

Stay Calm & Get Active~
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

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