The Online PD

Teachers working smarter

Active vs. Passive Learning

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I sat in the back of one of my corps member’s classrooms earlier this year and understood why he was so frustrated. His students followed along with the intro to new material, copied all of the notes, paid attention, didn’t talk, but when they got to the practice they couldn’t do it. His intro was clear and concise. All of the pieces appeared to be in order, but the learning wasn’t happening. While some people may have assumed there was an investment issue (his students were just going through the paces, but weren’t really motivated to learn the material), I had a different hunch. Through the entire INM the students were being passive learners. They were copying notes, but copying down words does not mean they were actually thinking about the information they were writing down. So the question was – how could we restructure the INM so that students were actively taking in the information?

What do active learners do?

I quickly started to draft a list of things that active learners do while taking in new information. As I started to write I realized many of the things on this list are also referred to as active reading strategies in literacy instruction. It makes sense that we would do the same things to interact with a text that we would do with new information presented in a form other than the written word.

Active learners (and good readers)…

1) Make connections to prior knowledge

2) Make connections to self

3) Visualize

4) Question

5) Make inferences

6) Make predictions

7) Determine the importance of what they’re learning

8.) Summarize what they learn

9) Draw conclusions

Teachers who are able to weave explicit opportunities for students to do these things throughout a lesson are able to increase student comprehension.

Learn more about each type of connection effective learners make and ideas for how to incorporate them into your class here.

Here are some examples of how different teachers build these opportunities into their lessons and guided notes:

Lesson Plan, Guided Notes, and Homework from Ryan Weaver

Lesson Plan from Mike, Guided Notes from Mike , Class work from Mike

Lesson Plan from Lindsey

More Ideas For Active Learning:

1) Increase student talk time

10 + 2 (Ten Plus Two)
Direct instruction variation where the teacher presents for ten minutes, students share and reflect for two minutes, then the cycle repeats.

3-2-1 (Three-Two-One)
Writing activity where students write: 3 key terms from what they have just learned, 2 ideas they would like to learn more about, and 1 concept or skill they think they have mastered.

Find the Rule
Students are given sets of examples that demonstrate a single rule (like “i before e except after c.”), (rules of multiplying integers), (rules for parallel construction), and are asked to find and share the rules with the class

2) Engaging kinesthetic learners

Acting Out a Problem
Students can act out mathematical, scientific, or social problems to improve their comprehension.

Agreement Circles
Used to explore opinions. As students stand in a circle, facing each other, the teacher makes a statement. Students who agree with the statement step into the circle.

Air Drawing
Students draw or motion in the air to demonstrate how they will carry out a procedure before they actually do so. Used in science labs and classes where students use tools or musical instruments.


Written by theonlinepd

February 24, 2008 at 3:13 am

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