Saturday, June 7, 2014

Participatory Learning Activities: They're Not Just for Elementary Students

I love when I come across a new resource that squares with my thinking.  It backs up what I already believe.

In a conversation this week with my friend and colleague, Dr. Linda Winfree, she shared a text she had read recently, Himmele & Himmele’s (2011) Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner.

The question we were discussing centered on the need for, and absence of, frequent participatory learning activities in high school and post-secondary educational settings.  So much of the instruction students receive can best be described, as Himmele & Himmele term it, stand-and-deliver instruction.  Too much lecture.  Too much teacher talking.

We teachers need to rethink our instructional practices to reduce the teacher talk and to increase students’ active engagement, both physically & cognitively, in the classroom. 

I particularly appreciate a Himmele & Himmele assertion that supports my instructional decisions; they write, “Good teaching results in student learning.  And if glue sticks and scissors are a way to get students to learn more effectively, then you are never too old to use them” (p. 30).  They offer Cut-and Pastes as one of their Total Participation Techniques for all ages, writing, “With adults, for example, we use Cut-and Pastes to better understand things like Bloom’s taxonomy, assessment concepts, and linguistic concepts” (p. 74).

Confirmation.  I’m not alone in my thinking.  

Make every learning opportunity a memorable experience.  Involve learners in hands-on, minds-on activities.

What participatory learning activities have you found to be most successful with your students?

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