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Active Learning

Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand. This often quoted Chinese Proverb points out a fundamental tenet of education: the more children are involved in their learning, the more they will retain and understand. Active learning will cement new concepts into place, and there are many ways to incorporate it into your classroom. You might choose to use math manipulatives to teach new concepts, play movement games or do hands-on science experiments. All of these are excellent examples of active learning that will engage more regions of your students brains and make it easier to master new material.

Another way to incorporate active learning into your classroom is through cooperative learning. There is a specific cooperative learning technique called jigsaw that promotes active learning. It is especially effective with older groups of students who are already independent readers and engages them in a unique way. You start by organizing your class into small groups of 4-6 children. Each group will have a similar assignment, for example to present a report on a particular country. Each child in the group will have a specific assignment: for example the topics might be natural resources, tourist attractions, geographical features and climate. Each student will be responsible for their piece of the report.

Here is where the jigsaw comes in. The students break from their original groups and join together with the other students in the class responsible for their specific piece of the report. For example, all of the students researching climate would form a new group. These students will work together to research and learn everything they can about the countrys climate. They know that when they leave this expert group, it will be their job alone to share what they have learned with their original group, and complete this part of the report. This active learning piece creates a situation of automatic responsibility and interest. It is a great way to organize groups of students when there are broad topics of knowledge to be covered, and the students really enjoy having the opportunity to work with a variety of other students in an active learning environment.

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