Interactive Learning: The Latest Classroom Transformer

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Evaluate students’ progress. Walk around and observe
groups. Jane Hardin, an elementary ministries coordinator in
Colorado, says, “When kids work in groups, teachers can interact
with more students-especially if their classes are large.” At the
end of each session, have groups identify two or more things they
did well and one thing they’d like to do better next time.ú
Jennifer Root Wilger is a book editor at Group Publishing in
Colorado. Permission to copy this article granted.

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LEARNING STRUCTURES

Start small and help kids become comfortable with this new style
of learning. Use the following techniques:

Pair-share-Have partners work together to solve a
problem or discuss an issue or question. Nancy Paulson, a preschool
teacher from Oregon, suggests using a pair-share to teach
4-year-olds about sharing. Give each pair a toy and say, “Show what
you’d do if you didn’t want to share.” Then say, “Now show what
you’d do if you wanted to share.”

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Complementary role assignments-Assign each child in a
group a specific role. Roles could include

  • Timekeeper-makes sure the task is completed in the allotted
    time,
  • Recorder-writes the group’s ideas,
  • Reporter-reads the group’s ideas to the class,
  • Encourager-makes sure everyone participates, and
  • Checker-makes sure everyone understands and agrees with any
    answers the group comes up with.

Jigsaw-Have kids in each group of four number off from
one to four. Have all the 1′s go to one corner, all the 2′s go to
another corner, and so on. Have numbered groups in each corner
learn a piece of the whole lesson, such as a different Ten
Commandment. After a certain amount of time, have group members
return to their original groups and teach the others what they’ve
learned in their corners.

TEACHER TRAINING MEETING

1. Getting Started-Read aloud Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Introduce an
attention-getting signal and explain to teachers that they’ll
experience interactive learning methods.

2. Head-to-Head-Have teachers pair up with a partner
who teaches within the same age range. Have pairs brainstorm
“out-of-control” situations they might experience in a classroom.
After several minutes, signal for attention. Ask pairs to share
their situations with the group. List the situations on newsprint.
Tell teachers they’ve just completed a pair-share activity.

3. Who Am I?-Have pairs from each age range join each
other to form groups of four. Have each group appoint a recorder, a
reporter, an encourager, and a checker. (See the “Interactive
Learning Structures” box for role descriptions.) Have groups list
relevant issues kids in their age range could brainstorm with a
partner, such as their fears or qualities of a good friend. After
five minutes, signal for attention. Explain that they’ve just
completed a complementary-role-assignment activity. Ask: What did
you like or dislike about each role? What other roles do you think
kids might enjoy?

4. Break Out-Have the teachers in each group number off
from one to four. Have all the 1′s go to one corner, all the 2′s go
to another corner, and so on. Tear the “out-of-control” situations
newsprint in fourths and give one piece to each corner group. Have
corner groups discuss solutions to their situations. After 15
minutes, signal for teachers to return to their original groups and
share what they discussed. After another 15 minutes, signal for
attention. Explain to the teachers that they’ve just completed a
jigsaw activity. Ask: What kind of information could you have kids
learn in a jigsaw activity?

5. Closing-Give each teacher a photocopy of this
article. Then read aloud 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. Close in prayer,
asking God to help teachers use these techniques to help children
interact with one another in the body of Christ.

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