9 Interactive Teaching Ideas for Classroom Learning
Incorporating interactive learning activities in your lesson plans is ideal for giving your students more agency in the classroom. Actively engaging your students in their learning increases their enjoyment, allows them to make decisions, draw conclusions from real-life examples, and improves comprehension.
Interactive learning also stimulates more brain areas than conventional teaching methods because students are involved in hands-on experiences with teacher-guided social interactions. Below we outline strategies to increase your students’ participation to facilitate a richer understanding of content and better educational outcomes.
- Using ClickView Interactive Videos
- Increasing Social Interactions
- Constructing Interactive Word Walls
- Integrating Technology
- Differentiating with Technology
- The Flipped Learning Model
- Running Simulations
1. Using ClickView Interactive Videos
At the core of our pedagogy is using interactive videos to increase academic engagement and enrich learning. Video content is entirely customisable to target the learning needs of your students directly. Studies show that using interactive videos significantly improves academic performance in direct comparison to traditional, non-interactive videos.
Other teaching benefits of interactive educational videos include:
- Ability to differentiate content
- Ability to produce your own content
- Ability of students to produce their own content
- Easier facilitation of the flipped classroom
- Shared content between students, colleagues, and faculties
- Access to a massive online and free-to-air library
- Analysis of student responses in formative assessment
- Tracking student participation and progress
2. Increasing Social Interactions
Activities that champion student voice can increase motivation because they feel safe and empowered to explore their ideas about a topic and improve their learning experience. Because their opinions are valued, your learners will be inclined to share their background knowledge, critically evaluate thoughts, and support each other during the learning process.
Studies also suggest that positive social interactions in schools boost connectedness and promote a wider spread positive relationship with the community.
Tips for creating a stimulating environment for productive student talk include:
- Teaching social skills like turn-taking, listening, and empathy
- Varying group sizes pairs, small groups, and whole class
- Observing preferred activities to increase participation (beneficial for students with ASD)
- Generating prompt/cue cards and questions
- Designing jigsaw style activities
- Inviting guest speakers
- Providing access to study materials and resources
- Assigning group roles, rotating student roles, and setting time limits
3. Constructing Interactive Word Walls
Using interactive word walls during a unit of work is effective in helping your students to construct and explore the meaning of words as they develop a deeper understanding of various topics throughout their schooling.
Explicitly teaching students how to use the word wall helps increase their agency as a visual point of reference to promote their independence. You facilitate learning through guided questions leading to scaffolded group interactions allowing students to support each other’s learning.
Making an interactive word wall involves:
- Listing high-frequency words
- Colour coding words by unit
- Including illustrations to enhance meaning
- Displaying the word wall prominently
- Practicing reading and spelling the words
- Saying and using the words in context
- Exploring the relationships between the words
- Mapping key concepts
- Developing academic vocabulary
4. Integrating Technology
Besides increasing learner engagement, you can use edtech to enhance educational outcomes through intuitive, interactive features. You’ll also allow your students to practice their digital literacy competency to help set them up for their futures.
Technology can also allow you to apply teaching strategies that accommodate and differentiate for students with disabilities to create a more inclusive environment. For example, audio support assists with reading fluency and visual reading aids like text magnification can be beneficial for children with dyslexia.
- Math: Use an engaging iPad app for drills that set the challenge level to the individual’s ability and reward progress to keep the learner motivated.
- HSIE: Explore Google Earth street view to discover fascinating places worldwide, like the Galapagos Islands.
- English: Create a choose your own adventure story using QR Codes.
- Science: Go on Virtual Reality tours of the solar system with Google Cardboard. Look into creating an immersive classroom at your school to learn about sea creatures.
- Foreign Languages: Organise Zoom meetings (e.g., NSW) between your class and students from your sister school.
- Creative Arts: Complete digital jigsaw puzzles of famous paintings on the SmartBoard, learn about the artist, then have students paint their own version.
- PDHPE: Use fitness apps to track weekly health data and set homework with nutritional apps that they can use to learn about different foods in the supermarket and later can report back on during class.
Using new technology can be a little confronting, but you will be surprised by how quickly your students pick up new skills. Be open to using various innovative resources to enhance educational opportunities and learn from your students to discover new potential with devices.
5. Differentiating with Technology
Differentiating content by using technology means that your students are receiving instructions for activities at their level. This can increase their independence and promote better behaviour as there is less reason to become distracted and look for help. Class time becomes more productive and efficient because your class is engaged in appropriately challenging schoolwork, and their needs are more readily met.
Differentiation is beneficial in many ways, such as:
- Providing recorded instruction to save time on lecturing and need for individual support
- Using apps that automate challenge level based on an inbuilt computer assessment reinforce strengths and mitigate challenges (e.g., Read along by Google)
- Adjusting assessment items students based on level (e.g., during an interactive video)
- Increasing access to study materials and resources
- Allowing students choice when completing classwork and assessment
- Aligning with students’ interests to sustain engagement
- Providing a variety of platforms to communicate during class
Differentiation requires you to consider the characteristics of your students.
- Readiness refers to the skills and background knowledge that your students bring to new topics. You think about strengths and weaknesses to adjust how you deliver instruction, the difficulty of activities, and the degree of group and individual work.
- Interest refers to aligning your curriculum with the diverse range of interests in your room. You will aim to spark curiosity and exploration of topics studied.
- Learner profile refers to the diverse learning needs of your students and how you will facilitate them in the classroom. You do this by allowing choices in activities and assessment, using different modes of communication, flexible grouping arrangements, and leveraging technology.
You can differentiate in numerous ways by breaking down the elements of the curriculum as follows:
- Content: what the students will be learning, materials and resources used. For example, you might use podcasts, WebQuest, or Digital Classroom.
- Process: how students find meaning, make sense of, and discover practical uses for the content. For example, students might use an app like Quizlet for individual study, a class wiki to aid collaborative learning, and contribute to a classroom blog to reflect on their experiences.
- Product: the evidence of learning demonstrated by the students in assessments. For example, students might design a poster, PowerPoint, or website for a topic based on their skill level.
By scaffolding learning with Edtech, you’re able to facilitate greater student agency in your class. Their willingness to participate and remain on task will increase as they see value in activities that allow them to achieve.
6. The Flipped Learning Model
Edtech also drives the flipped learning model, giving learners more control over their learning experience, equipping them with vital 21st Century skills, and opening up class time to in-depth, collaborative study opportunities. Flipping the traditional classroom experience can also benefit parents who wish to support their children’s learning at home but may be unsure how.
Steps to create a flipped classroom:
- Start by recording and posting instructional videos for your students to watch outside of school time.
- Students can watch the videos as many times as necessary to grasp key concepts and practice new skills in place of traditional homework.
- Students enter the classroom with the prior knowledge and readiness to test their comprehension of pre-viewed content in classroom activities.
- Students are encouraged to collaborate in problem-solving during class.
- Students can access videos any time to refresh ideas and concepts, so you don’t have to.
- Your focus is now on assisting individual students and addressing their needs.
- Refine your explicit instruction in a manner that best suits recording so that your students get the most out of watching the videos at home.
Keep in mind that your recorded content must be engaging enough to encourage repeated viewing. You can also learn how to avoid common mistakes here.
7. Running Simulations
Simulations develop higher-order thinking capabilities, increase understanding, and boost relevance for young learners. You can start by checking for background knowledge, then allow them to participate in structured simulations, and finally reflect on their experience to challenge assumptions and solidify what they have learned.
Simulations in different key learning areas could include:
- English: acting out stories to increase mental stimulation when learning to read.
- Science: building models to demonstrate how mangroves protect from tidal waves.
- Math: using a classroom currency as a reward and teaching about saving, spending, and budgeting (plus promoting positive behaviour/fines for inappropriate behaviour).
- HSIE: cooking foods the ANZAC soldiers ate, re-enacting battles with toy soldiers on maps.
- Creative Arts: using pipe cleaners and other materials to construct replicas of famous landmarks like the Opera House or Statue of Liberty (can be a time-limited guessing game).
- PDHPE: (if appropriate) using wheelchairs, blindfolds, earmuffs, etc., to simulate sports from the perspective of people with disabilities.
Visual representation is a fundamental part of how learners construct meaning. Vygotskian theory also suggests that drawing stimulates metacognitive functions in children by focusing their attention and helping them articulate discoveries they make throughout their learning.
Drawing is a mode of communication, drives creativity, and supports hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Drawing is also easy to facilitate and fun.
Ideas for making lessons more interactive with imaginative drawing activities include:
- English: Each student creates an illustration of a character or a setting. In small groups or as a class activity, swap everyone’s pictures. Students write one sentence about the image to start a story, rotate to the following picture, then add the next sentence based on what the previous student wrote.
- Science: 1. As students read through instructions for setting up an experiment, ask them to draw pictures illustrating each step. Next, ask your students to draw and describe the results of the experiment. Without naming the animal/insect, ask a student to describe it in as much detail as possible for their classmates to draw in 1 – 2 minutes (time limits help eliminate umming and ahhing). You then choose the best (read – everyone is included) drawing. Next, create a food chain by classifying their drawings into correct categories.
- Math: Hand out mini whiteboards and markers. State a math problem such as “Sarah has five apples and buys ten more. How many apples does Sarah have?” The students must write down and solve the equation (5 + 10 = 15), then draw the apples. You can do this activity in competition, in pairs, or small groups.
- Foreign Languages: Let the students use dictionaries to look up a targeted vocabulary, then ask them to make illustrated flashcards to teach the new words to their classmates. Use these flashcards in future lessons.
- Creative Arts: Have your students animate their existing drawings using photoshop to create gifs or digital software (e.g., Digicel) to create 2D Flipbook style animations.
- PDHPE: As an assessment, ask the students to draw and label the equipment they used during their latest unit (make the number of items specific) and maybe the court or field they played on.
It is recommended that you avoid criticising and comparing children’s drawings too much so that they don’t become anxious about their ability as they learn to draw. Nurture confidence in their abilities by demonstrating interest in their pictures and asking what colours and details they could add to prompt their creativity.
Before you shudder at the thought, research suggests that when utilised correctly, gamifying your lesson plans can be beneficial because design elements include:
- Freedom to fail so more motivation to try things and experiment
- Rapid feedback
- Easy to track progression (e.g., levels and leader boards)
- Storytelling and role-playing
- Points systems
- Prizes (badges, stickers, stamps)
- Developing 21st Century skills
- Increased participation, enjoyment, and engagement
- Personalised learning opportunities
So, why not give it a go?
Below are some suggestions on how you can use games to promote learning throughout a unit.
- Introducing a new topic: Replace brainstorming with classic games like charades, Pictionary, and Scatter-gories can be used to assess background knowledge and build excitement (and require minimal prep). Alternatively, provide students with objects, words, and images as clues and allow them to conduct online research to uncover the new study area.
- Body: Minecraft: Education Edition features lesson plans and resources from educators across the world. You kids could design a new module for a space station or even learn how to code through this incredibly comprehensive platform.
- Assessment: Quiz games are a fantastic interactive method of formative assessment made easy with sites like Kahoot and Quizizz. Alternatively, you could download a free PowerPoint game template to play Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? games with your class.
Online game resources are abundant and help make your classes more interactive, engaging, and fun. Find the right one to suit your needs, and let the games begin.