Creating interactive and fun classroom sessions and their impact on students

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“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

On a cold January morning, students of Amity Global School Noida settled down to learn a French grammar topic called “Impératif”—a verb form used to give orders—or Imperative in English. To make the class fun, unique, and transform it into lesson that would stay with the students for long, their French teacher used the medium of cooking! She taught the students how to make a vanilla cake with a delicious chocolate sauce topping, the instructions to which, used imperative mood.

 

Activities, such as these, makes learning a fun experience and involves a student wholly for better understanding.

 

India was once proclaimed as the land of learned individuals and great teachers who showed their students the right path with the help of the art they mastered for years; the art of teaching. Commercialization in education has corrupted the process of learning to a great extent and transformed teaching into an undermined profession. The past few decades have seen a dearth of great teachers and most importantly, the passion for teaching.

 

The scenario in the field of education is, although, witnessing a gradual progress.

Some of the renowned schools in India are making a serious effort in upgrading the set standards of imparting education. They are challenging the status quo and making education a fun experience for students and teachers. They are using unique techniques to formulate interactive classroom sessions which have multifarious benefits: the teacher can quickly and easily assess if students are able to master the lesson at hand and decide whether more time is supposed to be dedicated towards a particular subject, if necessary. This process helps measure student understanding because more often than not they do not actually learn the material until asked to make use of it in activities or assessments. This drives interactivity to a high extent and students tend to revive out of their passivity of merely listening to a lecture and instead become attentive and engaged, two prerequisites for effective learning. Often perceived as “fun”, these techniques are undoubtedly more effective than lectures at enabling student learning. These techniques vary with teaching styles, personality and the the level of understanding of the students involved.

 

The interactive classroom sessions, however, need to be structured and managed in a proper manner. There different ways to structure these sessions:

  1. The teacher might add an occasional activity to a regular lecture class.

  2. Dedicate a class period entirely to interactive activities.

Interactive techniques such as, think-pair-share or ConcepTests, can be reiterated several times within one class session while others, such as extended simulations, may be the focus of an entire period. Think-pair-share involves summarizing the main points covered in the class during a reading session. This is excellent activity to start and end a particular class with as it majorly discourages disinterest in the ongoing lesson. ConcepTests is questioning students to determine if they understand the topic after 10-15 minutes in the class. You can evaluate the responses and see whether they can apply the ideas in it to simple problems. If you’re satisfied with their responses, go ahead with another topic or else stay and reinform the past topics. Extended simulation is asking the students to apply all the concepts that have been presented in the class period up to that point with a one-minute-writing activity. These techniques are extremely useful for  reviewing the teachers performance and the overall response of the class in terms of their grasp over the subject. One can use all the techniques over the entire stretch of the class, combined, use two activities in one class or just do away with one depending on their need and the mood of the class. Many teachers use a combination of different activities; for example, one could use a few quick individual ConcepTests primarily for assessment, to see if the students understand and can apply the lecture material to simple problems, and then get them working in groups on a more complicated problem that has them synthesize the current material within the context of previous lessons.

 

Web-based learning is another idea that is completely transforming the way students acquire knowledge and skills. The new wave of technological development is freeing students from hectic written assignments, making learning more organized and transportable. Teachers also find it easier to evaluate, assess and redefine accreditations to a whole new level. We have to understand that students today no longer spend their time by themselves in a lonely little room, a noisy lecture room or the deadly silence in the huge reading room of a library. These components of learning environment still exist but their functionality has changed. If used effectively, e-learning has a greater potential to alter education and can be of massive use in making classrooms more interactive.

 

One has to also make sure that the classroom atmosphere is comfortable and nonthreatening to students, so that they are more inclined to participate in interactive lecture segments. The teachers has to make themselves approachable to students by enhancing the overall tone of the classroom. They have to carefully lay out expectations, maintain control, and determine how to disseminate information along with providing clear instructions, definite time constraints, monitoring and responding to students, and monitoring activities. This is an absolute must for everything to stay in order and fun at the same time.

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