articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning

Managing the active classroom

To keep children engaged in learning along diverse pathways, we, as teachers, need to manage the learning activities in your classroom.

Managing active learning involves many different elements. When we strike a balance among self-directed learning, peer mentoring, group work, and direct instruction, it makes our jobs easier and it helps children learn along many pathways.

Following are key items that you can consider as you increase the levels of active learning in your classroom:

    Planning
    Create a weekly plan scheduling classroom activities. Indicate whether children will be working independently, in groups, or as a whole class. In a multigrade classroom, each group may be working on a different activity.

    Preparing
    Prepare for each classroom activity by reviewing your teaching manual or outlining a lesson plan.

    Gathering resources
    Collect or create the resources that are needed for the activity. These could be stones or scraps of brick for use as mathematics manipulatives, sea shells for use in an art activity, or beans to be sprouted in science.

    Connecting learners to activities
    Whether the learning activity is whole-class discussion or projects pursued by groups, you can introduce it by addressing the class in direct instruction. Try to make the information or skills to be learned meaningful to students.

    Connecting learners to each other
    Take advantage of the ways children can help each other learn in pairs and groups. (For more information about organising groups, go to Teaching styles for active learning and Learning from each other.)

    Guiding and observing
    When children are working independently on activities and projects (whether in on their own, in pairs or in groups), move throughout the classroom, making yourself available for questions and guiding learners in overcoming obstacles. Use this time also for assessment, to determine how well children are focusing and the ways that they are interacting. (For more information, Active assessment for active learning.)

    Focus on equitable participation
    All of these methods and ideas help create opportunities for active learning. Be sure to guide the class toward equal participation by all learners, so that girls aren't dominated by boys, for example, or younger students by older students. For more information, go to Gender and the learner.


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Last revised December, 2000
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