All teachers know a certain type of student: the hibernator. This is the student who walks in and immediately puts down his his or her head, making it very clear they do not want to have anything to do with you, your lesson, or his classmates.
Active learning is worth the initial resistance, because it ensures that students are learning. Not only do administrators look to see whether teachers are engaging all students, it is an educator’s responsibility to reach them. These recommendations are a good starting point for teachers unfamiliar with active learning:
- Commit to using active learning and communicate confidently about it.
- Begin implementing these strategies early in the year. Make them a part of your expectations.
- Explain the reason for using active learning and how it benefits students.
- Frequently use this type of learning so students know you are serious; they will accept their roles more readily.
- Give clear directions. State the goal, time limits, procedures, and partner/group members’ names.
- Post instructions in a visible location for student reference.
- Divide students into pairs or groups yourself.
- Start with low-impact strategies like think-pair-share or in-class writing exercises.
- Then, move into more involved active learning activities.
The teachers also developed Interactive Learning Non-Negotiables, a model of 10 best practices used in every lesson, every day:
1. Essential Questions: Determine the lesson’s intended goal. Use one essential question per lesson that students must answer by the end of the lesson. Make sure the question is at the highest possible level of learning. To be effective, these queries should require analysis and application, an extended response, and cover multiple skills.
2. Activating Strategy: Get students actively thinking or connecting to that day’s material. Cochrane teachers often use video clips to immediately engage students by piquing their interest and then helping them connect to the lesson.