Open-ended quizzes really challenge students to think and come up with their own solutions and methods. The objective of this quiz is in direct opposition to normal quizzes that require students to memorize and reproduce. An interesting method employed is to provide the students with take-home exam sheets which they can give in after a period of a few weeks.
The interesting part about these quizzes is that students who produce straightforward answers will receive a minimum passing grade. Higher grades would be awarded to those who display a deeper understanding of the material, the ability to apply techniques from other disciplines, and the ability to evaluate.
Show and Tell
The concept of "Show and Tell" is one that most teachers are familiar with. While it may come across as an interesting activity, its utility goes much deeper. One of the best aspects of show and tell is that it can be used for students belonging to any age group. One of the primary objectives this method achieves is, of reversing the role of the student to a teacher.
In order to explain a concept to someone else, students must first truly understand the concept. This requires them to understand and analyze the selected subject deeply, and establish a clear line of thinking, to be able to explain the phenomena to their peers.
Lectures are one of the old methods used for teaching large groups of students. A plain and simple session usually allows the students to listen passively, without encouraging active participation. To grab the interest of students, one can try to make lectures more interactive by using techniques to encourage students to participate willingly.
For example, students can be given a particular question which they could discuss with their neighbor and collectively derive a final answer. Demonstration is another interesting way of making lectures more interactive.
An effective teaching strategy that must be used frequently is the use of practical examples. These can help students link theory to practical application, which results in more productive learning. While a sound theoretical base is important, it would not be effective without the understanding of its practical application. Examples not only help enhance the theories taught in the classroom, but are also a useful tool in illustrating and explaining new material.
By using these examples, educators are able to show students practical applications of what they are learning, and also teach them how to apply basic principles to real life problems. It is a good idea to use contemporary themes that students are interested in. For example, the cost of concert tickets to the 'Jonas Brothers', to explain a numerical problem.
Case studies are a compilation of "real-life" activity, in which theories have been put into practical use. As finding a case that fits the class material may be challenging, a teacher may provide students with case material or leave it up to them to find and develop. If the case material is provided, students are expected to go through it and be prepared to answer questions about various aspects of the case.
If students are expected to develop a case, their workload will increase significantly, and must be balanced out with other assignments. Students are usually required to work in groups while preparing, presenting the case, and fielding questions. As a teacher, one is required to guide the discussion, keeping in mind the goal of the case.
Brainstorming engages students and forces participation. There are many ways to brainstorm with a class. One can provide the entire class with a topic to discuss and each student is required to contribute at least one idea. Alternatively, students may contribute ideas as and when they think of them, though this can lead to unequal participation. One may also split the class into small groups, which can discuss and present their idea after a given amount of time.
A roleplay is an effective method of getting students involved so as to come up with solutions on their own. One can give them a topic to study and ask them to prepare a roleplay with every student of the group performing a particular part, and present it to the class so as to make other students understand the topic. This strategy not only helps the students in understanding the course content, but also makes them aware of real world aspects associated with it.
This technique is very useful in grabbing the attention of each and every student towards a particular topic through individual involvement. Teams can be formed within the class and each group can be given different, but related topics to prepare. When students are done with their topics, groups are reshuffled in such a way that each new group has one member of all the previous groups.
Now the students are required to teach everyone in the new group what they have learned in the previous team. This way every student pays proper attention when learning a particular topic because they know that they will have to teach the same to other members of their new team.
This method helps in preparing students before the class is actually conducted. Instructors post questions related to the topic of discussion on student portal, which students are required to answer before the class. Posting open-ended questions will require the students to read about the topic and then answer the questions as per their understanding of the subject.
Before the session, instructors review the answers and figure out the aspects which students have not understood properly and prepare class activities in such a way that those aspects are addressed.
This tool can be used to make students understand where the lecture is headed to, and the goals that are to be achieved at the end of the session. The board is divided into two sections, with one section dedicated to a flowchart, which is developed as the session progresses to establish the flow of thought, and the second section dedicated for presentation purposes.
At the end of the session, the flowchart serves as a summary of what has been taught in the session. These flowcharts are very useful, specially for a quick review before tests.
Some of the best methods emerge from one's own experiences. So spend some time reminiscing about the aspects of school or a certain class that you disliked. Also try to recollect what you liked and what you wished to be incorporated in your educational system. These experiences serve as the best base material to come up with your own teaching strategies.