Effective teachers are always on the lookout for new strategies that encourage more engagement among students.
Incorporating the most effective learning strategies in the classroom is essential for many reasons. New teaching strategies can give life to old lesson plans and help stimulate interest in specific topics. Over time, they also ensure teachers continue to provide a memorable school learning experience.
When crawling the web for new teaching strategies, it's easy to become overwhelmed. A quick Google search for "learning strategies" returns a whopping 626,000,000 results.
The amount of information available online can make it hard to distinguish between strategies that are effective and ones that just sound good. That's why we've done the grunt work for you and compiled a list of the best teaching strategies to inspire and engage your students in 2019.
Teaching strategy #1 Educational travel
Educational travel is one of the best ways to improve motivation and engagement in the classroom.
Not only is educational travel a fun teaching strategy, but it can also expand their tacit knowledge, gain higher-level learning and advance their problem-solving skills.
More and more schools around the world are incorporating educational travel into their academic calendar. Since 2010, the number of educational tours offered by schools has increased by 127 percent.
Not only is educational travel a great learning tool, but it is also beneficial for preparing students for life beyond school. Interestingly, students who travel are more sought after by employers. A recent study showed that 82 percent of employers in the UK believed travel made you more employable. Thirty-eight percent thought travel boosted confidence, increased people skills and improved communication skills.
An example of educational travel is an offsite workshop. This could be a multi-day science camp facilitated at one of the world's top universities or a single-day writing workshop at a local library. Regardless of what form educational travel takes place in, there are three underlying conditions that need to be present in order for it to be an effective teaching strategy:
- The learning environment must be unfamiliar. This means students will engage in a more active form of learning
- The learning experience must have a hands-on component. This encourages immersive learning.
- The learning experience must have a real-world component.
Teaching strategy #2: Inquiry-based learning
Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning. It involves posing questions, problems or scenarios, rather than merely presenting facts.
Inquiry-based learning helps students build complex problem-solving skills. Students are encouraged to investigate problems, explore possible solutions, and come up with explanations based on their findings. By combining classroom theories with real-world situations, inquiry-based learning helps students gain a broader understanding of the content they are being taught.
Inquiry-based learning is generally associated with STEM subjects. However, it’s becoming more common in arts and commerce-based subjects.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate inquiry-based learning is through incorporating more project-based activities. Inquiry-based projects commonly take place in the classroom, in the form of homework assignments, or through participating in off-site learning workshops. The most important element for effective inquiry-based learning is using real-world context. By adding relevant real-world context, students are encouraged to engage more thoughtfully in the learning process.
Teaching strategy #3: Differentiated instruction
According to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, every person absorbs information differently. Differentiated instruction involves presenting classroom content in different ways to benefit all students.
Carol Tomlinson, a leader in the area of differentiated learning, stresses that for this strategy to be effective, teachers must identify the unique learning styles of students before designing lesson plans. Because of this, differentiated learning is best suited for teachers working with a group of students over an extended period of time.
One common differentiated instruction strategy is the use of classroom learning stations. Once a teacher understands the learning styles of their students, they can segment the class into smaller groups. Lesson plans are then created to deliver the same content in different ways. While each group undergoes a different learning process, they should all arrive at the same conclusion.
When thoughtfully implemented in a classroom environment, differentiated learning can lead to increased student engagement. It can also encourage students to take a more active role in their own learning. Teachers who incorporate differentiated lessons reportedly also have fewer discipline problems in the classroom.
Teaching strategy #4: Co-operative learning
Co-operative learning is a technique that encourages students to learn and teach each other. It helps students develop confidence and encourages them to share information in a way that resonates with their peers.
In most cases, students are placed in small groups and given an instructional task to complete. Each member is given a responsibility meaning the success of the group is dependent on the contribution of all its members.
According to David Johnson and Roger Johnson (1994), there are five elements that make co-operative learning a successful teaching strategy:
- Positive interdependence: Students feel responsible for their own and the group's effort.
- Face-to-face interaction: Students encourage and support one another through discussion and eye contact.
- Individual and group accountability: The effort of an individual contributes to the success of the team.
- Group behaviours: Students develop the interpersonal, social, and collaborative skills needed to work together.
- Group processing: Individuals analyse their own and the group's ability to work together.
Co-operative learning encourages personal responsibility and teamwork. Students learn to use their peers as learning resources, which over time leads to a collaborative classroom environment. Co-operative learning also encourages thoughtful discourse, improves self-esteem, motivation, and empathy.