Written by David Christianson

Active learning isn’t about fun. It’s about engagement. It’s about doing something with information beyond intake and producing output. It’s about producing output right now, in the moment, and not waiting for a paper due in two weeks or a test on Thursday. Students are great at active learning, but they need instructors to provide the opportunity and a direction for it. Here are two activities to produce active learning in your class.

Name:  Note Share

Who:  Either assigned partners or random pairings with a person next to them.

Time:  2-3 minutes

Process:  Have learning partners critique each other’s notes on the section you just covered. What are their partners missing? What did their partners record that they didn’t? Do they seem to understand the main points?

Purpose:  This activity produces quick repetition of the material, which is good for memory. It also allows students a chance to ask questions to a peer and gain a better understanding of difficult material. Students have to analyze the information on their partners notes, which allows a platform for deeper learning.

Adapted from Silberman and Jensen.

Name:  Tweet This

Who:  Partners or groups of three

Time:  3-6 minutes

Process:  Have partners or groups write a tweetable (140 characters or less) summary of a main point or important piece of information. For as many in the class that use Twitter, ask them to tweet it. If you want to limit it even further, use a hashtag such as #COMS211 so it is trackable on Twitter and they can learn from each other.

Purpose:  This activity gets students to succinctly summarize. There is nothing magical about using Twitter as opposed to some other output, except that Twitter does limit the length of the post. This activity adds another emotional element (feeling challenged) to the information, which is a powerful memory enhancer.