Interactive Teaching and Learning Methods

Interactive learning is a special form of school learning, appeared from the necessity of keeping up with the new transformations in the socio- human activity. The person who learns actively is his own initiator and organizer of learning experiences, capable of permanently reorganizing and redesigning his own acquisitions. Modern educational theories emphasize the fact that school has an essential role in training responsable citizens, aware of their role in the social and spiritual life of the contemporaneity. The educational process is an active one, where learning becomes efficient.

Considering the riotous change of the society, our students need the capacity to select information and to choose what is or is not essential for their interests. They must understand the connection between pieces of information, discover their meaning and reject the ones that are not interesting. An important objective followed in our students’ evolution is developing their critical thinking and we can do that by using specially some active- participative learning strategies. These strategies represent a superior level in the hierarchy of didactic strategies, but they mustn’t be separated from traditional strategies. In order to develop the students’ critical thinking, the teacher must offer a suitable teaching approach, good for active and interactive learning, using efficient methods and techniques. By active- participative methods we understand those situations or actual active methods when students are transformed from the object of learning into active subjects, participating themselves at their own training. We consider active- participative methods all those methods that help bringing together the student’s energies, focus, interest and curiosity in the lesson, that stimulates his imagination, understanding, power of anticipation, memory, etc.

These are methods that help the student search, research, finding on his own the knowledge he is about to learn, discovering himself solutions to the problems, processing those knowledge, in other words they teach students how to learn, to work independently. A step by step guidance, which gives ready-made new knowledge, without letting students time and place to think, to ask questions, to appreciate, will do nothing more than to block their spontaneity, their thinking and imagination. Instead, independent reading, learning by discovery, learning by cooperation, problematization involves students in learning more than an explanation, an exposure and a demonstration. One of the advantages of these interactive methods is that they can be used successfully both in learning and evaluation.

The impact of using the active methods:

  • It motivates students to think boldly, without being discouraged by other people’s opinions;
  • Students participate with pleasure in these activities where there are used such methods;
  • They are confident in their own forces.

Some of the active- participative  methods and techniques, designed to help the diversification of teaching methodology and that I already used successfully in my classes, are:

1. The pyramid method or the snowball method is based on blending the individual activity with the cooperative one, inside a group. It is about the incorporation of every member of the group’s activity in a bigger one, meant to solve a task or a problem.

2. The diamond is the method used to describe a character. We choose a noun ( character). Then we write: two adjectives, three verbs, a four- word sentence, a gerund verb or a synonim of the noun.

3. ”Caligrama” can be used both in teaching- learning lessons, and the sistematization of knowledge, being approached individually or in a group. The words or sentences are arranged so that they represent the form  which is the object of the suggested theme.

4. The R. A. I. method is a method to arrange and organize knowledge, but also to verify them. It is about achieving feed- back by throwing a light ball. The title comes from the first letters: Answer- Throw- Interogate. The student that throws the ball must ask a question from the lesson to the student that catches it. The one that catches the ball answers the question, then he throws it next to another classmate, asking a new question.The student that doesn’t know the answer leaves the game, the same as the student that doesn’t know the answer to his own question.

5. Brainstorming is the most common method of stimulating creativity in a group activity, encouraging all the members to participate. It can be defined as: „ a way of obtaining, in a very short time, a large number of ideas from a group of people.”

6. The trusses technique is a teaching- learning technique which consists in using a graphic way to organize the brainstorming in order to show relations and connections between ideas.

7. The technique „Think- Work in pairs- Communicate” assumes a learning through collaboration activity, which consists of stimulating students to reflect upon a text, an informational content, by collaborating with a colleague to formulate ideas, and then to communicate them to the others, to the whole class.

8. Buzz session- participants come together in session groups that focus on a single topic. Within each group, every student contributes thoughts and ideas. Encourage discussion and collaboration among students within each group. Everyone should learn from one another’s input and experiences.

9. Incident process- this teaching style involves a case study format, but the process is not so rigid as a full case study training session. The focus is on learning how to solve real problems that involve real people. Small groups of participants are provided details from actual incidents and then asked to develop a workable solution.

10. Q&A sessions- on the heels of every topic introduction, but prior to formal lecturing, the teacher requires students to jot down questions pertaining to the subject matter on 3×5 index cards. The lecture begins after the cards are collected. Along the route, the teacher reads and answers the student-generated questions. Some tips for a good session are as follows:
A. Randomize — Rather than following the order of collection or some alphabetical name list, establish some system that evokes student guesswork concerning the order of student involvement.
B. Keep it open-ended — If necessary, rephrase student questions so that participants must analyze, evaluate and then justify the answers.
C. Hop it up — Gradually increase the speed of the Q & A. At some point, you should limit the responses to a single answer, moving faster and faster from question to question.

The interactive methods promotes interactions between the minds of the participants, leading to a more active learning and with obvious results. They allow the democratization of the teaching instrument, ensuring equal learning opportunities for all students, considering the fact that they address to some multiple intelligences and they give the opportunity for students to affirm themselves according to the availability of the next developments.

Cucos, C.- Pedagogy, Ed. Polirom, Bucharest, 1998, p. 13
Dumitru,  Ion Al.- Developing the critical thinking and efficient learning, Ed. West, Timișoara, 2000, p. 93
Macarie, C.- Modern methodological alternatives- a challenge for the teaching activity, Ed. Măiastra, Târgu- Jiu, 2005, p. 22
Opriș, D., Opriș, M.- Active methods of teaching- learning, Ed. Sf. Mina, Iași, 2006, p. 56

prof. Delia-Ionela Streche

Școala Gimnazială Mihai Viteazul, Alexandria (Teleorman) , România
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