Passively Teach With Actively Learn
Type of technology: Website
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation
Grade level: 7-12
Subject area: Social Science
Cost: Tiered options but I use the FREE one. Here are their options: Pricing
As a classroom teacher I know that there are times when you need to deliver content to your students. We used to accomplish this by the dreaded…lecture. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a time and place for direct instruction but if your school district is anything like mine, we need to start seeing what the kids know and how they are processing the information. With Common Core’s project-based learning and student data being the direction education is going we must now look to see the students take a more involved role in their own learning. We want them to be engaged, to be asking questions throughout, to be marking the text and to be collaborating with classmates. In essence, we want them to take an active approach to their learning. What better way to do that than with Actively Learn?!?
Actively Learn is a website that allows for quick and easy interactive (text-based) instruction. The beauty of it is that as the teacher you are able to do as much or as little as you want with each assignment. Because of their vast catalog of digital documents, you would do fine to just use the “plug and play” method where you search for the topic you want and assign it without having to add anything more than what they provide. The stories themselves usually come with questions and links built into them. By examining the student’s work you can see how well they are doing with their reading comprehension and understanding of the assignment.
Imagine this: your child gets sick at 6am and you need to take an emergency sick day but you have no lesson plan? Just assign your class an article, have the students log in and your worries about substitute planning are over before they even begin!
Once you get more familiar with the website you can do what I like to call my “semi-homemade” method. I’m not going to lie, I love Food TV shows so I stole this idea from my girl Sandra Lee where she takes store bought things and add a little this and that to them to make them her own. Anyways, I like this method for those educators who want to try out some new things but aren’t wanting to recreate the wheel. Here is a quick screencast to show you how quick and easy it can be: Example
To master this website you will eventually want to test your abilities to create a completely original assignment. This gives you the ultimate freedom with the content and assessment while still being able to utilize the efficiency and simplicity of Actively Learn’s software. Here is a quick example I put together: Assignment from Scratch
Actively Learn’s website has a really helpful blog which has tons of “How-to’s” as well as great suggestions on how to utilize their website most efficiently. As of this is posting the website has:
- 15 Instructional Tip blogs
- 8 Pedagogical Principle blogs
- 4 Reflections on Teaching blogs
What are the downsides to Actively Learn? I’d have to say that for me it has been really helpful, but the biggest downside is that the student work does not sync with our LMS that we use so I have to go into the website itself and get the information I want before transferring it to the gradebook I use. It is not terribly difficult to overcome, but it is a bit of a nuisance.