Activities to Improve Student Learning

I believe students learn better from active participation in collaborate activities.  Classroom activities motivate students to learn material, improving their understanding of a subject.  Students are able to construct their own knowledge and input; feeling proud of the outcome for their achievement individually, and as a group.  Whether it is an in class competition where students are separated into teams resulting in a reward, or going out of the class room on a special outing, i.e., a fieldtrip.  These learning styles encourage the students to think creatively, share thoughts with one another, and express their opinions.

            Material that is given by a teacher may be better received by the students to separate the class into teams for enhanced learning purposes.  Separating students into teams provides the students to develop peer relationships and motivation, all while having fun at the same time. Teams are then made competitive between students, accomplishing a shared goal.  The students better retain the information learned, and the winning team receives a reward!  This goal/reward makes each student responsible for the outcome of the team they are a part of; depending on each other for success.  A classroom activity may be a game where the students are split up into 4 teams; then given problems to solve of the material that they have been learning.  The teams will be given a certain amount of time in class to share, discuss and solve the problems.  Each team will then reveal their answers to the teacher and their fellow classmates.  The team or teams that answer all the questions correctly will be rewarded a total of 3 points at the end of the period, and the remaining teams that did not do as well will acquire 1 point; thus no student would feel left out, but put pressure on each student to pay close attention to material that is being taught for the next up coming “game time”.  The incentive for the winning team with the most points at the end of the month could possibly be a pizza party or maybe just bragging rights.  This in-class competition promotes sportsmanship, success by praising, encouraging, and supporting or assisting of each other. 

            Different learning environments can be created “outside” the classroom as well, i.e., fieldtrips.  A fieldtrip can help students learn better by using “real world” applications of their surroundings of what they are learning.  Fieldtrips are often the most fun and memorable learning experiences.  The students get to experience information “hands-on”; understanding the activity thoroughly, they ask more questions, they are engaged because they are excited about learning, and everyone participates.  For example, a fieldtrip to a dinosaur museum allows the students to explore the world around them.  Students can see and touch dinosaurs, a dinosaur’s habitat, they are able to see the actual size of specific dinosaurs they might have been studying in class by interactive (life size) exhibits, skeletons of dinosaurs that have been found and put back together, being a paleontologist for a day and digging for dinosaurs; digging up bones and fossils out of the rock and dirt.  Or maybe a history lesson could bring the class out to an open field to reenact The Battle of Gettysburg on a grassy hillside.  Students could make their own costumes, candle sticks, etc.  This opportunity to learn about world experience is that that cannot be duplicated in a classroom setting and the experience is fun and it “sticks”.

            When students are gathered together as a group, and/or put in teams to work on activities, the outcome suggests overall improvement in their ability to learn.  The children are exposed to and work together on not only the initial activity but also social skills, leadership, decision making, trust building and communication is developed in this learning atmosphere.  In class activities can easily be integrated into whatever the students are doing at any grade level.

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