Ways to Engage Middle School Students in Active Learning

Ways to Engage Middle School Students in Active Learning

Teachers can promote active learning in middle school by encouraging students to ask questions and develop discussion skills by working with their peers. Teaching middle school can be a challenging endeavor. More and more, educational research supports the idea that students learn by doing; therefore, they need to be active participants in the learning process. For teachers to transform their classrooms from the instructor-centered, information delivery models of the past into inquiry-based classrooms of the future, they need to incorporate activities that put students in the driver’s seats. Here are some ways to promote this process.

Students Ask Questions to Begin Unit

Teachers often prepare a new unit by conducting hours of research, typing up consolidated notes into a PowerPoint, and delivering information to students in a lecture format. While this method may be appropriate for older students, it can cause lethargy and downright rebellion in middle school students. Middle school students, who need chemistry homework help, are, by nature, both inquisitive and restless. Rather than fighting against this natural tendency and expecting students to conform, teachers can use these attributes to create an engaging and active learning environment.

One way to do this is to promote active questioning at the beginning of a new unit. Instead of introducing a unit themselves, teachers should try turning the tables. They can present the unit topic or theme and ask students to grapple with new concepts in a variety of ways. If a teacher is beginning a social studies unit on the Holocaust, for instance, she can begin by instructing students to write down in their notebooks as many questions as they can think of that relate to the Holocaust. Here are some ideas they can consider while generating questions of their own:

  • What associations do students have with the Holocaust? What questions emerge from these associations?
  • How do the topics of hatred, racism, or genocide relate to the Holocaust?
  • What stories have students heard about the Holocaust?
  • Who was affected by the Holocaust?
  • How might the Holocaust affect the future?

Some teachers may prefer to ask students to create a KWL chart, where students would write down what they know about a topic under the “K” column and questions they have under the “W” column. At the end of the unit, students can jot down what they learned under the “L” column. As for online essay writer, other teachers may prefer for students to create their method of organization by incorporating concepts maps, webs, or simple lists. Different note-taking methods will appeal to different students.

Students Ask Questions to Promote Discussion

While student-generated questions are a great way to begin a unit, inquiry should not end there. Students should ask questions throughout any course of study. The more questions students have, the more interested they are likely to be in the subject matter. The more answers they find to these questions, the more satisfying their learning will become. Therefore, students should continually ask questions and seek out their answers through reading, research, reflection, and, certainly, discussion.

While whole group discussion certainly has its place in today’s classroom, teachers should feel free to group students in a variety of ways to generate fresh perspectives. Here are some ways worked out by the pro essay writing service to create new discussion groups with minimal disruption:

  • Distribute index cards with numbers on them from one through five. All students holding "1s" will form a group, all students holding "2s" will form a group, etc.
  • Ask students to turn to the person next to them and form a pair to share their questions and seek out answers.
  • Ask students to link one of their questions to a specific teacher-created category. Students whose questions fall under the same category will form an impromptu group to conduct further research.
  • Assign different groups for each day of the week. If a discussion ensues on a Wednesday, for example, students will meet with their Wednesday group.

Inquiry helps promote a positive learning environment. As students grow more comfortable discussing their questions and ideas with other students, their enthusiasm for learning will increase. Further, students who have already created questions on their own will feel they immediately have something to offer their group. Finally, generating questions and seeking answers in collaborative groups allows for variety and movement in a classroom filled with energetic middle schoolers.

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Ways to Engage Middle School Students in Active Learning