Picture yourself entering a classroom as an observer. The teacher is lecturing from the front of the room, and the children are sitting silently at their desks. Although they are looking at the teacher, how many of these children are really listening? How many of them are listening and understanding? How many of them are looking at the teacher, but in their minds reliving the excitement of the past summer?
Active Participation is the consistent engagement of the learner’s mind with the learning. At times it can be directly observed, at others it cannot, as you will see below.
There are several ways in which Active Participation takes place within our classroom. These include:
1. Think, Pair and Share: The students is asked to think about an idea, and then to pair up with a partner to share thoughts.
Example: “What do you think the farmer expected to see when he visited the city? (Pause) Discuss your ideas with a partner. (Pause) Okay, let’s hear some of your ideas...”
2. Think and Compare: Students are asked to answer a specific question, and are required to confirm that answer with a partner before raising hands.
Example: “Think about the hypothesis we stated at the beginning of the experiment. Now think about what the experiment showed us. Was our hypothesis correct or incorrect? (Pause) Discuss it with your partner and be sure you can both prove your answer.”
3. Choral Response: Class as a whole answers a question, fills in a blank as the teacher reads or recites, or repeats idea which is central to learning.
Example: “The word that describes a story’s time and place is... class?”
Class answers, “Setting.”
“What does setting describe, class?”
“Time and place.”
4. Signals: The teacher asks a simple question or questions, and instructs the students to use silent signals as responses.
Example: I will name a state. If it is part of the Northeast, give me thumbs up. If it is not, give me thumbs down.
Dozens of other strategies are used to ensure active participation, including:
Consider why we need rules
Write down the five steps
Listen as this students reads and Identify two reasons
Raise your hand if you agree
Visualize the different patterns found on zebras and tigers
List six examples
Draw how rotation and revolution differ
Remember how we begin any addition problem
Tell your partner
Hold up fingers to show me how many steps in the Scientific Method
Point to the paragraph containing evidence
Why is Active Participation so important?
- Helps retention by providing immediate practice;
- Allows teacher to monitor student participation;
- Focuses student attention on the central learning or task;
- Helps teacher to determine if task is too easy or difficult;
- Provides motivation through variety and a feeling of success;
- Allows students to interact with each other and teacher more often.